A former Soviet military officer, Stanislav Petrov, who was often known as the "saviour of the world" for having averted a possible nuclear disaster during the Cold War, has died.
A former Soviet military officer, Stanislav Petrov, who was often known as the “saviour of the world” for having averted a possible nuclear disaster during the Cold War, has died, according to BBC. He was 77. Petrov, a lieutenant colonel then, was on duty at a Russian nuclear early warning center, on the night of September 26, 1983, when computers wrongly detected incoming missiles from the US, as per BBC. Based on his experience or instinct, he decided that the alarm was false and did not proceed further to report it to his superiors. Many believe that this Petrov move had possibly prevented nuclear war between Russia and United States.
Stanislav Petrov died on 19 May this year, but the news of his death has been made public only now. In 2013, explaining the situation that he had faced, Petrov said he felt like “sitting on a hot frying pan.” He said: “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. All I had to do was to reach for the phone; to raise the direct line to our top commanders – but I couldn’t move” according to BBC. Although as per protocol, he should contact the Soviet military immediately, instead he took a bold decision and reported about a system malfunction at the army headquarters, as per BBC
Later, following an investigation, it was found that the Soviet satellites had mistakenly identified sunlight reflecting on clouds as the engines of ballistic missiles. Karl Schumacher, a German film-maker, was the first to bring Petrov’s story to the audience. On 7 September, when Schumacher called him to wish a happy birthday, Dmitry Petrov, his son, informed that he had passed away, the report said.