Russian president Vladimir Putin significantly escalated anti-American rhetoric Tuesday with a chilling video of a new “invincible” nuclear weapon that was shown striking Florida in a CGI video.
The video, shown at Putin’s annual address to the country’s Federal Assembly, raised all sorts of questions, including why Putin decided to ramp up tensions and how the U.S. (and Donald Trump) might respond. But the one question many people were asking was pretty basic: Why Florida?
The state, after all, is the home of Walt Disney World and other tourist-friendly attractions, but is not generally thought to be a focal point for the country’s nuclear arsenal.
Florida is the home to Mar-a-Lago, though, Trump’s favorite retreat. He has spent at least 56 days there since entering the Oval Office. And Putin’s comments follow months of Trump’s call to strengthen the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Mar-a-Lago, incidentally, reportedly has three bomb shelters on site.
Florida is also the home to MacDill Air Force Base, headquarters for United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), and United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)—separate, but critical, commands that are run by a four-star general or admiral.
Just last year, officials discussed the impact a nuclear weapon strike would have on MacDill and the surrounding area, noting that a strike was highly improbable (though the focus, at the time, was on North Korea).
Putin says he has no plans to start a preemptive nuclear war, but was very clear that sanctions would not deter him—and that the West should be very careful about how it proceeds in other parts of the world.
“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development … you have failed to contain Russia,” Putin said, later adding that “any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies … any kind of attack … will be regarded as a nuclear attack against Russia and in response we will take action instantaneously no matter what the consequences are. Nobody should have any doubt about that.”