Uh Oh, Something Went Boom In Russia
OH SHIT, Y'ALL. "Chernobyl" is one of the best TV things to happen this whole entire year, and now there's been some sort of nuclear reactor explosion on the northern coast of Russia. Are they doing a live re-enactment of the Chernobyl disaster just to prove that they still have the capability to fuck some shit up with a combination of incompetence, hubris, and overall bad decision making? Because if so, we already knew that.
Wonkette is joking and being mean, and we shouldn't be doing that, because "at least" seven people died. But it sounds like whatever happened, it happened yet again during a test -- this time probably most likely of a nuclear missile Vladimir Putin is totally borscht-ing his pants about.
American intelligence officials are racing to understand a mysterious explosion that released radiation off the coast of northern Russia last week, apparently during the test of a new type of nuclear-propelled cruise missile hailed by President Vladimir V. Putin as the centerpiece of Moscow's arms race with the United States. [...]
United States intelligence officials have said they suspect the blast involved a prototype of what NATO calls the SSC-X-9 Skyfall. That is a cruise missile that Mr. Putin has boasted can reach any corner of the earth because it is partially powered by a small nuclear reactor, eliminating the usual distance limitations of conventionally fueled missiles.
As envisioned by Mr. Putin, who played animated video of the missile at a state-of-the-union speech in 2018, the Skyfall is part of a new class of weapons designed to evade American missile defenses.
Great, just great.
The Thing Go Boom incident happened on Thursday, as the New York Times reports, out at sea at the Nenoksa missile site. If you like maps, this is where that is:
Is Russia being quiet about what's really going on? Yup, that's how they do! But news has been trickling out, like radioactive particles traveling through the air, which is a thing that definitely happened here, unless you listen to certain Russian news organs, in which case NO RADIATION, NO RADIATION, YOU ARE THE RADIATION!
Rosatom, the Russian state-owned energy company, said early on Saturday that the test that went so poorly had something to do with "isotopic sources of fuel on a liquid propulsion unit," which already sounds like a fancy way of saying BOMB. But they weren't saying much else, even though apparently the dosimeters in nearby towns like Severodvinsk were going BOOP BOOP BOOP just like they did on the TV show, and also like they did during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. But don't worry, Severodvinsk took its report of heightened levels of radiation off the internet, so that means there's nothing to see here:
No use for the propulsion unit was mentioned, although President Vladimir V. Putin previously boasted that Russia has developed a nuclear engine for long-range missiles. And there was no explanation why the authorities in a nearby city had reported rising radiation levels for a brief period several hours later.
Quickly the connection was made between this Fall Down Go Boom incident and these damn missiles Putin has been flapping his yap about, that can supposedly reach anywhere on the entire planet earth. Uh oh, did the missile fuck up, Vladimir? Because apparently that's a thing that's been happening with these tests.
Beyond the human toll, American intelligence officials are questioning whether Mr. Putin's grand dream of a revived arsenal evaporated in that mysterious explosion, or whether it was just an embarrassing setback in Moscow's effort to build a new class of long-range and undersea weapons that the United States cannot intercept.
Anyway, the Times reports that folks in the surrounding areas all went to whatever they call the Walgreens in Russia to get iodine meds, which supposedly help counter the effects of radiation, so much so that all the Russian Walgreens ran out of iodine meds. (Fun fact, because we Googled: One of the main pharmacy chains in Russia is called Pharmacy Chain 36.6 -- creative! -- or Apteka 36.6, and it is actually partially owned by the Walgreens Boots Alliance. So what do you know! They DO have fuckin' Walgreens in Russia. Sort of.)
Meanwhile, the Times cites a Russian news source called Baza, which reported that injured people were taken all the way to the hospital in Moscow, and that the "vehicle doors [of the ambulances] were sealed with plastic sheeting, apparently to prevent the release of contamination from the patient's bodies, and the drivers wore white protective suits." So that sounds fine! Also the area in question -- Dvina Bay in the White Sea -- is now closed to shipping for a month, and a "specialized ship used for collecting and storing liquid nuclear waste from the country's nuclear-powered icebreaker program" was seen heading that-a-way on Friday.
Is this a good time to mention that the Trump administration very stupidly pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty like 10 days ago, because Russia was violating the terms of it, which is actually not a good reason to chuck the thing in the garbage, because of how you can't punish a rogue nation for violating a nuclear treaty if there's a not fucking treaty to begin with? Yeah, that happened.
The Washington Postreports that five scientists were laid to rest today, and that thousands of Russians came out to pay their respects. Our sincere condolences to their families, and we just hope their damn government isn't covering up something that will lead to far more dying as a result of whatever the hell this was.
[New York Times / ibid.]
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