Sputnik shared a video Tuesday created by Science magazine, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, that shows what a nuclear attack on Washington, D.C., could do to the city. The video depicts an explosion “smashing buildings, leaving hundreds of thousands of people dead, others fleeing the scene and seeking medical help,” noted Sputnik, which is owned by the Russian government–controlled news service Rossiya Segodnya.
The Russian outlet shared the video as many speculate about the potential for war to break out between the nuclear-armed superpowers Russia and the United States.
The United States, France and the United Kingdom launched airstrikes Friday against chemical weapons facilities in Syria, where Russia is actively supporting President Bashar al-Assad. The airstrikes stopped after just one day without any retaliatory strikes from Russia, but experts noted that the possible confrontation between Russia and the West had caused a “war scare” in Moscow, where the state-run media likes to portray the U.S. as its top foe decades after the end of the Cold War.
The airstrikes were in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Douma that Western countries have said was committed by the Assad regime.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bellicose rhetoric and grandiose displays of military weapons haven’t quelled those fears. Putin used his annual state of the union address in January to show off new intercontinental ballistic missiles that he claimed could overcome even the most advanced missile defense technology and could demolish an area the size of Texas. In a video simulation, Russian nuclear missiles appeared to be targeting a city that looked like Tampa, Florida.
In an op-ed for Time published March 9, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned that the U.S. and Russia should tone down the rhetoric in order to avoid nuclear war.
“The alarm that people feel today is fully justified. How should we respond to this new round of militarization?” Gorbachev wrote. “Above all, we must not give up; we must demand that world leaders return to the path of dialogue and negotiations.”