Nuclear threats emanating from the upper echelon of the Russian government are nothing new. In fact, the frequency with which the Kremlin has suggested using a nuclear weapon is so great that most of the threats of late have been laughable or ignorable.
But this week, the head of Russia’s space agency went a step further with a bizarre video of a nuclear test layered over a popular children’s song.
Russia’s top space official, Dmitry Rogozin, recited a well-known children’s poem in a YouTube video commemorating a national holiday last week. When he got to the line, “I love everybody around the world,” the clip took a dark turn, showing footage from the test launch of Russia’s nuke-capable Sarmat ballistic missile, nicknamed “Satan-2.”
Threats of nuclear war are now so trivial to the Kremlin that they’ve become the stuff of jokes.
On Saturday, Rogozin, the director of Russia’s federal space agency Roscosmos, announced the second testing launch of Sarmat—a ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads—which he had called “a present for NATO.” On his weekly show on the state-run TV network Russia-24, Rogozin said he was the one overseeing “increasing demands for this machine that has been agreed with our client, the Ministry of Defense; and of course we have started the serial production of the missiles.” Rogozin added that on Putin’s orders, Roscosmos was planning to assign the first division of Sarmat missiles in the Krasnoyarsk region this year.
Rogozin would later go on to threaten Lithuania.
While boasting of his Satan-2 monstrosity, Rogozin also doubled down on Russian threats against NATO member Lithuania for its transit ban on Russian exports.
“From my point of view—and I am the man who led those negotiations in 2003, as the presidential special representative—we should start casting doubt on the entire package of our agreements,” he said, referring to the 1920 peace treaty between Soviet Russia and Lithuania that recognized the country’s sovereignty. “Lithuania has shot itself at its own foot, casting doubt on its own state border.”
Attacking a NATO ally could have serious consequences for the Kremlin, however, and would constitute an escalation of the highest order.