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Putin shows video of his ‘invincible missile’ hitting Florida. Here’s why he would (and wouldn’t) do

POSTED March 4, 2018 3:19 a.m.
Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled what he called an “invincible” missile earlier this week.

A video showed the missile attacking a place familiar to many Americans — the state of Florida.

Putin unveiled the missile during an annual speech to the Russian Parliament in which he laid out key policies for his next term as president. Putin is largely expected to win re-election on March 18.

As BBC News reported, Putin said his new cruise missile can carry a nuclear payload, has unlimited range and an unpredictable flight path that can bypass lines of interception and is "invincible in the face of all existing and future systems of both missile defense and air defense."

Putin claimed the missile makes NATO’s defenses “completely useless.”

"But even this is not the end," Putin said. "We've developed new strategic weapons that don't use ballistic trajectory at all, which means that missile defense will be useless against it."

Putin then drove home his point by playing a video animation of a nuclear strike on the U.S., specifically Florida, according to CNN.

"That's certainly something that we did not enjoy watching. We don't regard that as the behavior of a responsible international player," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the video confirmed U.S. belief that Russia had strong weapons.

Samantha Vinograd, a national security analyst, told CNN that Putin’s video was meant for the president of the United States.

"I do think Vladimir Putin was speaking to one audience," she said. "It wasn't anyone in Russia. It was Donald Trump."

Vinograd said Putin was likely "trying to get the president distracted from anything that Trump may be doing to hold Russia accountable" for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

"The president's inaction makes Vladimir Putin think, 'Why wouldn't I say all this? Why wouldn't I show that I can violate treaties and laws and talk about strategic attacks all around the world?' Vladimir Putin has no reason to feel constrained in any way," she said.

Trump owns the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. According to Fortune, Trump has spent nearly 56 days there since he became president. The good news for Trump — the resort has three bomb shelters on site.

But Putin may also target Florida because the MacDill Air Force Base is in Tampa Bay, according to Fortune. The air base is the headquarters for United States Central Command and United States Special Operations Command, which are separate command stations led by military generals.

Still, Putin might not target Florida at all in a real military strike. According to a BBC News report, Putin would be more likely to target places that would halt the U.S. military’s retaliation, specifically Air Force bases across the West.

According to BBC, analyst Matthew Kroenig wrote in the book “The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy” that Putin would likely target the Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, the Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska and the Warren Air Force Base, which sits at the borders of Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. All of those bases are home to nuclear silos.

And, according to Kroenig, Russia would hit submarine bases in Bangor, Washington, and Kings Bay, Georgia.

Russia would likely also attack the top 131 most populous cities with missiles to pile on more destruction. Salt Lake City is the 124th largest city, according to this ranking from City Mayors Statistics.

For now, all Americans can do is watch Putin share his message with the world, said Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, according to BBC.

“This isn't a war-fighting strategy, to have a video of attacking Florida,” he said. "This is a message. The symbolism is in the video itself. It's a rhetorical flourish."

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