Russian state TV presenter Sergey Mardan praised North Korea for threatening to use nuclear weapons against the United States during a Friday night broadcast amid the Ukraine war.
After Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine last February, state TV pundits have repeatedly taunted the West, which has largely condemned Moscow’s military actions, over the potential use of nuclear weapons that would greatly escalate the conflict between the two Eastern European nations.
The latest nuclear remarks came Friday night when Mardan celebrated North Korea for being “independent” in global affairs, as well as for its President Kim Jong-un’s nuclear threats. Video of the discussion was posted to Twitter by BBC journalist Francis Scarr on Saturday morning.
“For them, independence is an absolute value for which they are prepared to do anything, including turning the whole world into dust,” Mardan said. “That’s to say, when King Jong-un said back when Trump was still president that if you move your aircraft carriers toward the coast of North Korea, we’ll…whack you with a nuclear bomb.”
North Korea has long touted its nuclear weapons capability. Viewed as a pariah state in global diplomacy, its state officials have, at times, used inflammatory rhetoric in regards to its nuclear program. The country has also conducted several nuclear tests off its coast, raising eyebrows from the international community.
Mardan, however, praised that rhetoric, describing it as a success for North Korean independence.
“They all turned back and knew he [Kim Jong-un] wasn’t lying—that he really would…whack them with a nuclear bomb. You can’t mess around at all,” he said.
As Western leaders have condemned Putin’s invasion—pointing to an apparent lack of justification as well as alleged human rights abuses—Mardan added that most Russians believe Moscow should use similar nuclear threats to deter Western influence over Russian international affairs.
“And the thing is that this is exactly how most of our country thinks. They agree with this approach, and they’re not prepared to make any compromises,” he said.
Alicia Sanders-Zakre, policy and research coordinator for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, told Newsweek on Saturday that nuclear threats should never be celebrated.
“The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is the only international treaty to explicitly ban all nuclear threats, and in light of Russian threats, states parties issued an unequivocal condemnation of nuclear threats in June 2022. Countries that are serious about condemning nuclear threats should join the TPNW without delay and reinforce the norm against using or threatening to use nuclear weapons,” Sanders-Zakre wrote.
What Russian State TV Has Recently Said About Nuclear Weapons
In the months following the invasion, the Kremlin cracked down on free press in Russia, with state TV essentially serving as Putin’s propaganda machine. Hosts have offered various, at times threatening, perspectives about nuclear weapons use.
Last month, Russian state TV host Vladimir Solovyov clashed with a guest over the potential use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. The Putin ally said that the “demonstrative” use of a nuclear weapon would turn the war in favor of the Russians in response to France promising to send light tanks to the Ukrainian military. However, Evgeny Buzhinsky, a military expert, said that would lead to a “global catastrophe.”
Last month, Solovyov threatened that the West would be “burned to ashes” if Ukraine won the war.
Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.