Putin boasts of new nuclear weapons, shows animation striking Florida

During a state-of-the-nation speech, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin unveiled what he claims to be powerful nuclear weapons, including a ballistic missile, and provided a video animation to his audience showing missiles targeting Florida. 

Russia has tested an array of new strategic nuclear weapons that can't be intercepted, President Vladimir Putin declared Thursday, claiming a technological breakthrough that could dramatically increase Russia's military capability, boost the Kremlin's global position and also raise Western concerns about a potential renewed arms race in the 21st century.

Speaking in a state-of-the-nation speech, Putin said the weapons include a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone, and new hypersonic missile that have no equivalent elsewhere in the world. He said the creation of the new weapons has made NATO's U.S.-led missile defense "useless," and means an effective end to what he described as Western efforts to stymie Russia's development.

"I see the video of the missiles headed for Tampa, Florida, and part of me starts laughing at the absurdity of it," said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

The other part of Mayor Buckhorn considers MacDill, CentComm and Special Operations Command.

"Potentially, we could be a target," he said. "My sense is - this is Putin's overheated rhetoric."

The head of USF's Center on Russia, Professor Golfo Alexopoulos points out there are three weeks left before their presidential election. 

While there's no chance Putin loses, he is trying to beef up turnout against an opponent who is telling voters to stay home, by capturing nostalgia for a Russia that used to be stronger.

"Putin's main objective is to say, We are a powerful country and should be listened to,'" explained Alexopoulos.

The 45-second video was shown during a two-hour speech akin to an American State of the Union. 

Why Florida got the cameo is hard to say, though it's worth considering MacDill, the space program, tourists, what Russians think of our beachy quality of life.

Or it could be a wink at Donald Trump's Mar-A-Lago resort property.

"I think Florida was chosen. I don't think it was random," said Alexopoulos. "There is a long history in Russia and the Soviet Union of bluster."

She expects Florida to survive.

"I will sleep at night. I will sleep fine about this," she said.

Putin, however, would have the audience of hundreds of senior officials and lawmakers believe differently.

"We aren't threatening anyone, we aren't going to attack anyone, we aren't going to take anything from anyone," he said. "The growing Russian military power will guarantee global peace."

The Russian leader emphasized that the development of new weapons that have no equivalent in the West came in response to the U.S. withdrawal from a Cold War-era treaty banning missile defenses and U.S. efforts to develop a missile defense system.

Mayor Buckhorn insists Florida was chosen because it represents diversity and the American Dream.

"As a mayor, I look at this, shake my head, and say it's just another day in the mayor's office."