State Dept. Rebukes 'Cheesy' Russian Video Presented by Putin Showing Florida Nuke Strike: 'We Don't Think It's Responsible'

Spokeswoman says Moscow violating treaties with new weapons, calls out Russian reporters for defending Kremlin

March 1, 2018

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Thursday castigated the Russian government for creating a video that appears to show new Russian nuclear warheads striking the state of Florida, calling the animation "cheesy" and irresponsible.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in the day unveiled new nuclear weapons and other weapons systems, including an "invincible" missile that can deliver a warhead at hypersonic speed. During an annual address to the Russian Parliament, Putin boasted about Moscow's military might and presented a video that showed missiles raining down on what appeared to be the outline of Florida.

Nauert called the video "cheesy" and said "we don't think its responsible," during a press briefing.

"It was certainly unfortunate to have watched the video animation that depicted a nuclear attack on the United States," she said. "That's certainly something that we did not enjoy watching. We don't regard that as the behavior of a responsible international player."

Nauert also said that Moscow's development of certain new weapons systems violate treaties that it has signed, noting that the U.S. has suspected some of the Kremlin's new military projects.

"President Putin has confirmed what the United States government has known for a long time that Russia has denied prior to this: that Russia has been developing destabilizing weapons systems for more than a decade in direct violation of its treaty obligations," Nauert said.

"President Trump understands the threats facing America and our allies in this century and is determined to protect our homeland and preserve peace through strength," Nauert added. "U.S. defense capabilities are and will remain second to none."

Later in the briefing, a reporter from RT, a Kremlin-funded news outlet, asked Nauert whether Putin's speech will change America's attitude about working with Russia on global security issues.

"It's certainly concerning to see your government, to see your country put together that kind of video that shows the Russian government attacking the United States," Nauert said. "That's certainly a concern of ours. I don't think that that's very constructive, nor is it responsible."

Another reporter from a Russian media organization then claimed that the video from Putin's speech showed two missiles heading off in different and random directions, rather than hitting the United States.

"It was not attacking the United States," the reporter said. "It was two missiles sent to different directions."

Nauert asked what outlet she worked for, and the reporter confirmed her employment at a Russian outlet.

"OK, OK, enough said then, I'll move on," Nauert said, dismissing the Russian reporter.

CNN reporter Elise Labott then interjected.

"Wait, I'm sorry, what does that mean?" Labott asked. "They're not, they're not officials of the Russian government; they're just asking a question about Russia."

"Oh, really? OK. Well, we know that RT and other Russian news, so-called news organizations, are funded and directed by the Russian government, so if I don't have a whole lot of tolerance—" Nauert said before being interrupted by multiple reporters.