March 17, 2014 -- A prominent Russian TV presenter is warning that Russia could nuke the United States into oblivion.
Dmitry Kiselyov, who hosts an influential Sunday evening program on the main state-owned channel, posed in front of a mushroom cloud graphic Sunday night and ranted about how Russia is the only country in the world still capable of turning the United States into "radioactive dust."
He also suggested that President Obama's hair is graying because of fears about Russia's nuclear arsenal.
Kiselyov is known as a firebrand and last year his diatribe about gays also generated headlines in the West.
He's also essentially the Kremlin's propaganda chief, the head of a new state-owned media group aimed at improving Russia’s message at home and abroad. It's important to see his latest comments in that light: propaganda, not necessarily policy.
His comments seem intended to reassure the public here that Russia - a day after being isolated at the United Nations and on the cusp of being isolated economically from the world - is still a mighty nation capable of standing tall on its own.
It's the distillation of Putin's nationalistic swing in recent years: Who cares about foreign criticism and sanctions? Russia is an exceptional nation with superior values that are lost in the morally decaying West that is clawing to maintain its edge.
Kiselyov is selling Putin's dream of the return of Russian might - the return of glory and empire lost - as the Kremlin flexes its muscles and reasserts itself on the world stage.
Is Russia really prepared to nuke the United States? Extremely unlikely. But Kiselyov - and Putin - want to remind the Russian people that they can.