Russia shot down Santa Claus’s sleigh today in international airspace over the Arctic Ocean.
According to local reports, the sleigh was beginning its annual Christmas Eve journey around the world when it was struck by a surface-to-air missile fired from the Russian island of Novaya Zemlya, just a few hundred miles from the North Pole. Santa and nearly all of his reindeer were killed instantly.
Norwegian fisherman soon located the debris field in the frigid waters of the Arctic Ocean. Images of the debris aired on CNN and other international news networks show broken limbs, teddy bears, and gift wrapping strewn throughout the sea.
Although Russia has officially denied involvement in the incident, U.S. intelligence forces say they have proof the missile was fired from a Russian military installation on the island. Several ultra-nationalist politicians in Moscow have praised the downing, which targeted a popular Western celebrity.
“Santa Claus is a symbol of Western decadence and consumerism,” said Alexei Onnatopp, leader of the far-right Golden Bear party. “Whoever killed this fat, corrupt man is a patriot and a hero.”
Today’s events bear striking similarities to the downing of Malaysian Flight 17, which was shot down by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine this summer using a similar surface-to-air missile. All 285 passengers and 15 crew were killed aboard that flight, which was traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Remarkably one reindeer survived today’s blast and is currently being treated for his injuries at a hospital in Norway. Authorities have yet to officially release its name, but sources close to the investigation confirm that it is Rudolph -- the crimson-snouted misfit immortalized in an eponymous 1939 song.
“We were able to rescue him first because of his red nose,” says Lars Sommerhielm, an admiral in the Royal Norwegian Navy. “It stood out amongst the ocean waves. The others we couldn’t get to in time.”
In a speech from the Oval Office, President Obama vowed an appropriate response to the tragedy, which may include tightening sanctions on an already crumbling Russian economy.
“Today Russia has gone too far,”he told reporters. “President (Vladimir) Putin has threatened the hopes and dreams of children around the world. He will be brought to justice.”
A funeral for Mr. Claus has been set for Dec. 28 at the North Pole. Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and other international dignitaries are scheduled to attend.