Russian TV shows Ireland, Britain wiped out by nuclear weapons in simulated video

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As one of President Vladimir Putin’s staunchest defenders referred on Russian state media to Britain’s support of Ukraine’s defense against Russia, the rhetoric escalated when Dmitry Kiselyov spoke of a hypothetical nuclear attack on the “British Isles” that would result in Ireland and Britain getting wiped out.

“Another option is to plunge Britain to the depths of the sea using Russia’s unmanned underwater vehicle Poseidon,” Kiselyov, the Russian propagandist and “News of the Week” anchor, said on Rossiya-1. “Such a barrage alone carries extreme doses of radiation.”

Kiselyov, who falsely said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had threatened Russia with a nuclear attack over the war in Ukraine, explained that the drone’s warhead, with a yield up to 100 million tons, would create a gigantic tsunami along the coastline, despite there being no evidence to support these assertions.

Kiselyov, a man described by international media as “Putin’s mouthpiece,” concluded that a strike of that magnitude would “turn whatever might be left of [Britain and Ireland] into a radioactive desert unfit for anything for a long time.”

While he never directly mentions Ireland, a 45-second video simulation during the segment, which has been viewed about 2 million times since Sunday, shows a map in which Ireland and Britain no longer exist.

The Russian video simulation of the hypothetical nuclear attack, which was reported by the BBC’s Francis Scarr on Sunday, was met with deep skepticism and criticism from Irish lawmakers, including Prime Minister Micheál Martin. Martin, who described the mock-up of the Russian nuclear attack to Irish national broadcaster RTE as being “very sinister, intimidatory-type tactics,” called for Russia to apologize on Tuesday for “whoever instigated this.”

“It reflects a mind-set that is worrying and not in touch with reality,” Martin said.

Martin did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment Tuesday.

Johnson has continued his public support for Ukraine in the days since the video simulation aired in Russia. On Tuesday, Johnson’s address to Ukraine’s legislature via video link struck an optimistic tone on the war effort. “Ukraine will win, Ukraine will be free,” he said. The British prime minister, who became the first head of government to address the Ukrainian parliament since the Russian invasion, announced about $375 million in new military aid, including heavy drones to lift supplies to Ukrainian forces, electronic warfare equipment and thousands of night-vision devices.

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Critics have questioned the timing of Johnson’s speech, days before local elections in the UK, as well as the government’s humanitarian efforts to help with Ukraine’s historic refugee crisis. The British government has faced blowback for admitting 27,000 Ukrainian refugees — a small fraction of the 5.3 million who have left Ukraine as of April 27, according to the United Nations. Unlike many other European countries, the United Kingdom has not waived visa restrictions for Ukrainians fleeing war.

Kiselyov claimed Sunday that the video simulation of the nuclear attack was in response to comments made last week by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who said Britain would “keep going further and faster to push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine.”

“It actually seems like they’re raving on the British Isles,” the Russian propagandist said. “Why threaten never-ending Russia with nuclear weapons when you’re on an island which is, you know, is so small?”

Kiselyov said one RS-28 Sarmata super-heavy, thermonuclear-armed intercontinental-range ballistic missile dubbed by NATO as “Satan 2,” would be “sufficient to sink it once and for all.”

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“Everything’s been calculated already,” Kiselyov said, without providing evidence.

That’s when he turned his attention to the prospect of an underwater drone that travels at a depth of 1 km (0.62 miles) and a speed of up to 200 kilometers an hour (about 124 mph). The Russian state media anchor said the explosion would result in a tsunami wave up to 500 meters high, or roughly 1,640 feet.

“There’s no way of stopping this underwater drone,” he said as the video simulation showed a missile heading toward the coastline.

As the clips spread in recent days, Irish officials, including European Parliament member Billy Kelleher, have expressed their “absolute disgust at these threats to Ireland.”

“There is no free speech in #Russia so these statements are being made with Putin’s approval,” he tweeted Monday. “Time to tell Russian Government that this wild language is simply unacceptable to us.”

Other experts, such as John Everard, a former UK ambassador to Belarus, have minimized Russia’s ability to wipe out Ireland and Britain with one weapon.

“I would urge everybody just to keep calm. By all means, if you feel strongly about it, make your things clear to the Russians. But can we please remember this is just a television mock-up,” Everard told RTE. “The Russians do not have this weapon. I’ll say that again, they do not have this weapon.”

Karla Adam contributed to this report.

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