Russian TV Panel Laughs While Discussing Nuclear Strikes Against the U.S.

A panel of Russian analysts on a state-owned TV channel laughed as they discussed a potential nuclear strike against the U.S. after President Vladimir Putin touted the test launch of the new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic on Wednesday.

The Russian military reportedly test-fired the nuclear-capable Sarmat missile from Plesetsk in the country's northwestern region and successfully hit targets in the Kamchatka Peninsula, some 3,700 miles away. Putin said that the long-awaited weapon is "capable of overcoming all modern means of anti-missile defense."

Discussing the launch of the Sarmat on Russia-1, the analysts laughed and giggled while one laid out the possibility of a strike against the U.S., specifically mentioning New York City. The clip was first reported and shared to Twitter by Julia Davis, a columnist for The Daily Beast and the creator of the Russian Media Monitor.

"Meanwhile on Russian state TV: hosts and panelists giggling uncontrollably, while discussing nuclear strikes against the continental territory of the United States. Can you imagine any of our prominent media anchors laughing at the idea of destroying cities?" Davis tweeted on Thursday.

"Americans don't have this kind of rockets and never had them," one of the panelists said during the Russia-1 broadcast, according to an English translation. Video footage of the Sarmat launch plays next to him on the screen.

"What kind of objects can it destroy? What size of territory?" another panel member asked.

When the first panelist responded, he suggested it could be used against "our so-called partners," referring to the U.S. Others on the panel began to laugh as another said, "Partner is very important."

"Objects like the city of New York, a good city, but it would be gone," the first panelist asserted. "Completely gone with one rocket," he added.

The Russian intercontinental ballistic missile test comes as tensions remain high between Moscow and the U.S. and its fellow NATO nations amid the ongoing assault on Ukraine. After Putin launched the full-scale invasion eight weeks ago, on February 24, he drew swift international condemnation.

The U.S., Canada and Western European nations quickly implemented severe sanctions targeting the Russian economy and members of Russia's elite. NATO countries have also sent billions of dollars in weapons and humanitarian aid to Ukraine as its forces continue to repel the invaders. After two months of war, the Russians have failed to conquer any major Ukrainian city, and Kyiv's government remains in place.

"This truly unique weapon will strengthen the combat potential of our armed forces, reliably ensure Russia's security from external threats and provide food for thought for those who, in the heat of frenzied aggressive rhetoric, try to threaten our country," Putin said Wednesday after the Sarmat test.

When the Russian leader announced the invasion of Ukraine in February, he warned Western nations that any effort to get in his way would "lead you to such consequences that you have never encountered in your history." A few days later, Putin ordered Russia's nuclear forces to be put on high alert.

Russian missile
Russian President Vladimir Putin this week touted the test launch of an intercontinental missile. Above, an RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile vehicle during rehearsals on April 18 for the Victory Day Military Parade in Alabino, outside of Moscow. Contributor/Getty Images

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden said in late February that Americans should not be concerned about the possibility of a nuclear war breaking out. Asked whether Americans should worry about that possibility, Biden said, "No."

However, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres gave a different assessment in March. "The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility," he warned.

Russia has the largest number of nuclear weapons of any nation in the world, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The organization's data shows that Russia has 6,255 warheads. The U.S. has the second-highest number, with some 5,550. After that, China is third with just 350. Even one nuclear warhead attack could lead to a catastrophic loss of life and destruction, as well as decades of long-term effects from radioactive fallout.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Embassy for comment.