A new report from the news website Axios indicates President Donald Trump became outraged in March after Russian President Vladimir Putin showed a video of nuclear weapons hitting Florida amid his reelection campaign.
A newly published article suggests US President Donald Trump was outraged by a March video presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin in which nuclear weapons were seen hitting Florida.
The video was shown to Russians during Putin’s reelection campaign. In a March 1 speech, Putin detailed several new nuclear weapons, each time stressing that US defenses could not handle the new designs. One of the computer-generated videos he used to demonstrate the weapons showed their hitting Florida, where Trump frequently visits his Mar-a-lago golf club and resort.
Trump’s reaction was previously unreported, but the news website Axios said Sunday, ahead of Trump’s Monday summit with Putin in Helsinki, that the video enraged Trump and prompted a sharp response in a call between the two leaders.
“Usually it’s a bit of a love fest,” Axios quoted a source close to Trump as saying of the leaders’ calls. But this time, the source said, Trump told Putin the video was “outrageous.”
“I’ve already increased defense spending, modernized our nuclear weapons … We can do more, so if you want to do an arms race you’ll lose,” Trump said, according to Axios’ source.
The reported rebuke apparently came on the same March 20 call in which Trump was believed to have congratulated Putin on his election victory despite being warned several times by top aides against doing so.
Though Trump has invested in nuclear modernization and set a new US nuclear posture, the US’s nuclear arsenal is virtually the same as it was before his election.
Putin’s clear threat to Trump
When the video first came out, former CIA Director Michael Hayden said on CNN that he found it “stunning” Russia would show a video depicting Florida getting nuked and said “clearly” Putin “wanted us to see that.”
The US and Russia control most of the world’s nuclear weapons. Though both the US and the Soviet Union were prepared to target civilian population centers during the Cold War, today the US’s nuclear missiles exist mainly to target and destroy Russia’s nuclear weapons sites as a means of blunting a Russian counterattack.
Florida doesn’t hold any unique nuclear infrastructure. If Russia nuked Florida, it wouldn’t provide much of a military advantage and would purely punish civilian populations. Increasingly, it looks as if Russia is preparing a nuclear arsenal meant to kill people and wreck the earth rather than to precisely target the US’s nuclear threats to Russia’s homeland.