Russia’s Nuke-Happy Space Chief Dmitry Rogozin is completely out of joint

Russia’s top space official, Dmitry Rogozin, recited a well-known children’s poem in a YouTube video commemorating a national holiday last week. As he got to the line, “I love everyone in the world,” the clip took a somber turn, showing footage of the test launch of Russia’s nuclear-capable Sarmat ballistic missile, nicknamed “Satan-2.”

Threats of nuclear war are now so trivial to the Kremlin that they have become the stuff of jokes.

On Saturday, Rogozin, director of Russia’s federal space agency Roscosmos, announced the second test launch of Sarmat – a ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads – which he had described as “a gift to NATO”. Speaking on his weekly show on state TV channel Russia-24, Rogozin said he is the one who is “monitoring the increasing demand for this machine, which has been agreed with our customer, the Ministry of Defence; and, of course, we started serial production of the missiles.” Rogozin added that on Putin’s orders, Roskosmos plans to deploy the first division of Sarmat missiles in the Krasnoyarsk Territory this year.

While boasting about his Satan 2 monstrosity, Rogozin also doubled down on Russian threats against NATO member Lithuania over its transit ban on Russian exports.

“In my view – and I’m the man who conducted these negotiations in 2003 as the special representative of the President – we should start to question the whole package of our agreements,” he said, referring to the 1920 peace treaty between the Soviet Union Russia and Lithuania, which recognized the country’s sovereignty. “Lithuania has shot itself in the foot and raised doubts about its own state border.”

It was not the first time that Rogozin, who is also a former Russian ambassador to NATO, threatened the alliance with conflict or weapons of mass destruction.

“Rogozin is a real hawk, I’ve known him very well personally for many years, he likes to perform on stage, crack jokes, but his recent nuclear saber-rattling worries me a lot,” said Gennady Gudkov, a former member of Parliament and the President KGB veteran, said The Daily Beast. “The Kremlin obviously wants him to threaten NATO with nuclear war and this is no joke as we have seen too many psychopathic orders to kill thousands of civilians in recent months.”

“I heard from my sources close to the Kremlin in February that there was a discussion about using … nuclear weapons, so I moved all my grandchildren out of Russia,” Gudkov added.

Last month, Rogozin said that “in a nuclear war, we will destroy the NATO countries in half an hour.” No one in government has denied his apocalyptic threats.

“We’re not fighting the Nazis in Ukraine, we’re ridding Ukraine” of Western influence, he said 11 weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin dispatched his army “to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine.” By early April, it was clear that the “operation” would take much longer than the Kremlin had anticipated. By mid-April, Ukraine had driven Russian forces out of the Kyiv region, and just weeks later the first test of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile was conducted.

“Try to threaten our country, think twice,” Putin warned, while his propaganda machine on state television declared that “everything will end with a nuclear strike.”

Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnika via Getty

It is clear that images of the Sarmat were intended to intimidate NATO outside Russia’s borders. Just this week, as the NATO summit in Madrid began, Russia’s federal space agency released ominous Sputnik satellite images showing the exact coordinates of the summit on Telegram.

“Russian propagandists often begin to believe what they say; Obviously there is something behind their constant threats,” Vasily Gatov, senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center of Communication, told The Daily Beast. “But Rogozin often sounds like a charlatan. He is a classic Putin bureaucrat, good at public relations and sharing dark imperialist ideas.”

But to those in Ukraine bombarded by Russian missiles, Rogozin’s Sarmat threats sound serious.

The founder and editor-in-chief of the Ukrainian media company Zaborona, Katerina Sergatskova, was sleeping peacefully at home with her husband and their two young children when the first Russian missiles hit Kyiv on February 24. Sergatskova’s block of flats is located on the left bank of the Dnieper River, which was attacked six times on the first day of the war.

“We are seriously considering an attack by a Russian nuclear ballistic missile that they would use to improve their positions in high-stakes negotiations,” she told The Daily Beast.

Earlier this month, nuclear talks reached a boiling point when Radoslaw Sikorski, a member of the European Parliament, suggested the West had “the right to give nuclear warheads to Ukraine”. Another Kremlin ideologist, State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin, immediately promised that Europe would “disappear” if it provided Ukraine with nuclear weapons. “Sikorski provokes a nuclear conflict in the center of Europe. He doesn’t think about the future of either Ukraine or Poland,” said Volodin.

“It remains only to advise the attackers to speak more politely with Russia.”

KGB veteran Gudkov believes Putin has several bunkers to turn to in the event of a nuclear war. “If he says he has a plan, that plan must mean hiding 2,500 meters underground with whoever he considers his closest men to be. The rest seem to be panicking. Almost all Russian oligarchs left the country,” Gudkov told The Daily Beast.

Military experts analyzing the risks of nuclear war say there are no signs Russia is ready to go that far.

“I’m a bit worried about the trivial discussions about nuclear war. There is a big question: who is Rogozin? … He is not the president of Russia and as far as we know he is not [directly] involved in testing Sarmat. It is the Russian Ministry of Defense that is conducting the tests.”

That hasn’t stopped Rogozin, however, from being one of the leading Russian voices spreading fears of a catastrophic meltdown around the world.

“With a nuclear charge, such a crater in a hostile place becomes … very large and very deep,” Rogozin said last month in reference to Sarmat-2. But for now, “all that remains is to advise the attackers to speak more politely with Russia.” Russia’s Nuke-Happy Space Chief Dmitry Rogozin is completely out of joint


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