MOSCOW: A Kremlin-backed journalist issued a stark warning to the United States about Moscow’s nuclear capabilities Sunday as the White House threatened sanctions over Crimea’s referendum on union with Russia.
“Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash,” television presenter Dmitry Kiselyov said on his weekly current affairs show.
Behind him was a backdrop of a mushroom cloud following a nuclear blast.
Kiselyov was named by President Vladimir Putin in December as the head of a new state news agency whose task will be to portray Russia in the best possible light.
His remarks took a propaganda war over events in Ukraine to a new level as tensions rise in the East-West standoff over Crimea.
Kiselyov is an outspoken defender of Putin and once caused outrage by saying the organs of homosexuals should not be used in transplants.
His show portrayed the Ukrainian authorities as unable to maintain law and order. Putin made a similar charge Sunday in a telephone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama.
As the crisis escalated, the news in Russia has taken on shades of Soviet-era propaganda, with reporters peppering reports with references to what they say was the cooperation of some Ukrainians with the Nazis in World War II.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 18, 2014, on page 10.