Stanislav Petrov, ex-Soviet officer ‘who saved the world’ by averting nuclear war, dies aged 77

Former Soviet missile defense forces officer Stanislav Petrov poses for a photo at his home in Fryazino, Moscow region, Russia. (AP Photo) Top News

Former Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov, famous for averting nuclear war between the then-Soviet Union and the United States, passed away at the age of 77, Gizmodo reported. Deputed as a lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Air Defence Forces at the age of 44, Petrov was in charge of a missile detection system in a bunker south of Moscow on September 26, 1983 when his computer readings suggested that five nuclear missiles had been launched from the US towards Moscow.

However, it was his discerning and timely decision that saved the world from nuclear destruction as he defied the protocol by not launching a retaliatory strike, reasoning that it was a false alarm, though he didn’t have any real evidence that this was true.

Karl Schumacher, a German political activist who publicised Petrov’s story back in the late 1990s, said he learned of the former Soviet military officer’s death when he ed Petrov’s home.

“The siren howled, but I just sat there for a few seconds, staring at the big, back-lit, red screen with the word ‘launch’ on it,” Petrov was quoted as saying by ’s Russian Service in 2013. “I had all the data [to suggest there was an ongoing missile attack]. If I had sent my report up the chain of command, nobody would have said a word against it,” Petrov said.

“There was no rule about how long we were allowed to think before we reported a strike. But we knew that every second of procrastination took away valuable time; that the Soviet Union’s military and political leadership needed to be informed without delay,” he told the .

With his computer suggesting that five nuclear missiles were on their way to Moscow, Petrov had the privilege of mere 20 minutes to launch a counter-attack. However, he informed his superior officers that it was a false alarm.

Petrov’s son Dmitry said his father had died on May 19, 2017.

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