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Lt Col Stanislav Petrov, the ‘man who saved the world’ dies at 77

A Soviet officer whose cool head and quick thinking saved the world from nuclear war has died aged 77.

Stanislav Petrov was on duty in a secret command centre outside Moscow on 26 September, 1983, when a radar screen showed that five Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles had been launched by the United States toward the Soviet Union.

Red Army protocol would have been to order a retaliatory strike, but Petrov – then a 44-year-old lieutenant colonel – ignored the warning, relying on a “gut instinct” that told him it was a false alert.

“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,” he told the BBC’s Russian Service in 2013. “All I had to do was to reach for the phone; to raise the direct line to our top commanders.”

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