Russia’s President Vladimir Putin used a nuclear rocket last month to launch his unprecedented fourth term in office. The next generation of Russian atomic weapons includes a cruise missile that not only carries nuclear warheads but is also powered by a nuclear reactor, giving it a functionally unlimited range, as Putin showed by means of a computer simulation of the missile flying down the Atlantic Ocean, rounding Cape Horn and heading for California.

The question for those of us directly under its flight path is whether Putin’s warlike posturing and language is also a simulation or the real thing.