- President Donald Trump became outraged back in March after Russian President Vladimir Putin showed a video of nuclear weapons hitting South Florida amid his reelection campaign, a new report says.
- South Florida doesn’t have a ton of military value, and it’s likely that Russia showed the video as a direct threat to Trump, who owns property there.
- The news website Axios says Trump snapped on Putin in a phone call, saying that if he wanted an arms race, the US would beat him.
- The call was reportedly the same one in which Trump is believed to have congratulated Putin on his election victory.
President Donald Trump was outraged by a March video presented by Russian President Vladimir Putin in which nuclear weapons were seen hitting Florida, the news website Axios reports.
In a March 1 speech during Putin’s reelection campaign, he detailed several new nuclear weapons, each time stressing that US defences could not handle the new designs. One of the computer-generated videos he used to demonstrate the weapons showed their hitting South Florida, where Trump frequently visits his Mar-a-Lago golf club and resort.
The video enraged Trump and prompted a sharp response in a call between the two leaders, the news website Axios reported first on Sunday.
“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 defence spending, modernised 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.
Trump is expected to discuss nuclear weapons with Putin at their meeting in Helsinki on Monday. Though Trump has invested in nuclear modernisation 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 centres 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.
South Florida doesn’t hold any unique nuclear infrastructure. If Russia nuked Florida, it wouldn’t provide much of a military advantage and would mainly 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.
More coverage on the Trump-Putin Summit:
- Republicans blast Trump for his ‘disgusting’ press conference with Putin
- Putin attacks US reporter’s question about Mueller probe and collusion
- Trump says he doesn’t ‘see any reason’ why Russia would have hacked the US election
- Former CIA director says Trump’s press conference with Putin was ‘nothing short of treasonous’
- Anderson Cooper slams Trump-Putin press conference as ‘perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president’
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