The name Stanislav Petrov might not ring a bell in your ears, but believe us it should. He is one of the people we should appreciate because he was in a position (and ordered) to start a nuclear war, but he didn’t. He died today this morning in his small home outside of Moscow, the fate of a man who restrained himself from squeezing that red button and pushing us all into an oblivion.
Back in 80’s he was a colonel in the Soviet army and the Commander of the OKO Command center near Moscow. That is the location of a station that served as a early warning center against enemy nuclear strikes. It was the faulty equipment that almost started the world war, his computers reported that United States fired a ballistic missile in the direction of Moscow, leaving him with just few minutes to make a decision if he would strike back.
“I’ve never wondered if I could be in such a situation, even though we were convinced that the Americans could attack us and that it was just a matter of the time this would happen. The cold war was ice cold at that time” – says Petrov.
As seconds were passing by he hesitated, but he did start arming the system for the counter-strike. Luckily for us all, he didn’t press the red button. The faulty computer showed five incoming ICBM projectiles heading towards Moscow, a point from which there was no turning back. He decided to wait for the nuclear strike, even under the price of his own non-existence.
Later it turned out that the mistake was in the Russian satellite who misrepresented the data of some Sun flares and interference. After the incident he had a nervous breakdown and he was soon retired, only 10 years later in the 90’s did the story hit the public eyes. Later he even received Dresden Prize for Peace as the man who saved the world.
Unfortunately for Petrov, in the Soviet army, he was disbanded with negative rating as a un-trusty personnel, also he was not awarded with any military award for preventing a nuclear war. Today he died with a great burden on his shoulders, feeling confused for saving the world.