Russian state television host Dmitry Kiselyov opened his Sunday primetime show with an ominous allusion to nuclear war.
The comments came just hours after President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian army to put its nuclear arsenal, the world's largest, on “high alert” in response to what he called "unfriendly" steps by the West.
“Our submarines are capable of launching over 500 nuclear warheads, which guarantees the destruction of the U.S. and all NATO countries,” Kiselyov said on his weekly program, “Vesti Nedeli.”
“Why do we need a world if Russia is not in it?”
Kiselyov’s comments came hours after Putin announced he was placing Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces on “high alert,” citing “aggressive statements” and economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by NATO.
The U.S. condemned Putin’s escalation, accusing the Russian president of “manufacturing threats that don’t exist in order to justify aggression.”
Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last Thursday, the West moved to enact punishing sanctions against Russia, targeting the country’s financial institutions and removing some Russian banks from the SWIFT international money transfer system.
“Putin warned them. Don’t try to frighten Russia,” Kiselyov said, repeating the Kremlin message on state broadcaster Rossiya 1.
On the eve of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Putin ordered the West not to interfere in what he described as Russia’s “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine, or it would lead to “such consequences that you have never encountered in your history.”
The sanctions have sent shockwaves through the Russian economy as the war entered its fifth day, with the Russian ruble plummeting in value.
Delegations of the two countries arrived Monday to the Belarusian-Ukrainaian border for talks in an attempt to de-escalate the war raging across Ukraine.