1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Why did Putin target Tampa Bay?

During a speech touting advancements in nuclear power, the Russian president shows a video ending with warheads raining down on the United states.
A video simulation from the Russian government shows missiles striking Florida. (YouTube)
A video simulation from the Russian government shows missiles striking Florida. (YouTube)
Published Mar. 2, 2018

During his annual state of Russia speech, President Vladimir Putin unveiled what he called a devastating new intercontinental ballistic missile.

To illustrate how it works, he showed the audience a video that ended with warheads raining down on the United States — specifically, what appears to be the Tampa Bay area.

For one local expert in Russian military operations, the speech was reminiscent of the depths of the Cold War. And it left some wondering why Putin would choose Tampa to make his point.

The speech had "a little bit of Back to the Future flavor," said Greg Celestan, a retired Army lieutenant colonel from Tampa who was a Russian expert in the U.S. Central Command intelligence directorate and spent time in the former Soviet Union as a U.S. Army liaison to its military.

"This is a type of speech that I would have expected 30 years ago. This reminds me of the song, Don't You Forget About Me," Celestan said.

Russia was recently singled out for criticism during congressional testimony by Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of CentCom, which is headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. Votel called the Russians both firefighters and arsonists in the ongoing Syrian civil war.

Celestan, however, doesn't see any specific reason why Putin would want to attack Tampa. He noted that Russia has sent representatives to an international coalition CentCom created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"I'm not sure if that had any relevance or meaning," he said. "They are aware of MacDill and have had representatives at Coalition Village over the years, so they know the significance of a base with two four-star commands. I don't place any significance to it, per se."

More here.


This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge