Russia’s struggling economy may not make for a particularly effective military, but the Kremlin’s ability to mold public perceptions remains among the nation’s most comprehensive and powerful skill sets. While some within the United States are still content to dispute the idea that Moscow uses a combination of state-run media outlets and social media outreach campaigns to shape the way the world perceives Russia (and ourselves), there are few better examples of this state-sanctioned chicanery than recent reactions to the “Poseidon” or Status 6 unmanned, submersible nuclear weapon.

Let there be no mistake, Russia’s Poseidon is both well within the nation’s technological capabilities to develop, and promises to offer a never-before-seen level of destruction if ever detonated inside an American port. Yet, beyond the headline-grabbing 100-megaton yield and the promise of irradiated tsunamis laying waste to coastal communities for hundreds of miles, the Poseidon offers Russia truly little in terms of strategic value.

Russian MoD graphic showing how the Poseidon could be launched from subs.

That may seem counter-intuitive. After all, with the largest nuclear warhead ever put into service secured inside a stealthy platform that, in all likelihood, could reach American shores undetected, one could be inclined to think the Poseidon poses perhaps the most pressing threat to American security since the Soviet Union first developed the atomic bomb. However, the truth is, the same nuclear deterrence strategies that defanged Russia’s previous “doomsday” weapons remain in effect whether the nuclear threat comes from the sky or beneath the waves.

Russia, in fact, already boasts nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles that are massively more powerful than the platforms housed in America’s ICBM arsenal. Russia also holds the title for most nuclear weapons on hand, making it the clear winner in both categories for most and biggest nukes.