By Rebecca Shabad - 03/17/14 07:41 AM EDT
A major anchor on Russian state television on Sunday said Russia was the only country that could turn the United States into “radioactive ash.”
"Russia is the only country in the world realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash," Dmitry Kiselyov said on his weekly news program on Rossiya 1 TV, according to Agence France-Presse.
A large image of a mushroom cloud after a nuclear attack appeared behind him as he made the comment.
His provocative remarks came as exit polls were being released in Crimea as its people voted in a referendum to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
The threat of nuclear war, of course, dominated the period of the Cold War between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.
A Russian nuclear weapons system known as Perimeter, which was used during the Cold War, may still remain active, Kiselyov suggested.
"Even if people in all our command posts after an enemy atomic attack cannot be contacted, the system will automatically fire our missiles from mines and submarines in the right direction," he said.
Kiselyov reportedly argued that the United States and President Obama fear Russian President Vladimir Putin, which Kiselyov said has been evident during the current Ukraine crisis.
"Why is Obama phoning Putin all the time and talking to him for hours on end?" he asked.