The man who single-handedly saved the world

Stanislav Petrov a Soviet military officer credited with helping prevent US-Russia nuclear war died at the age of 77: Petrov dismissed a warning about US nuclear strike as a false alarm. The probe later proved that Petrov was right and prevented the war. Petrov received several international awards and was honoured at the United Nations.

Petrov lived in a small town outside Moscow with his death making headlines in Russia and abroad only months later

The Story
  • In September 1983, 44-year-old Petrov was a lieutenant colonel on duty at a secret command centre south of Moscow when an alarm went off signaling that the United States had launched intercontinental ballistic missiles.
  • Petrov had only a few minutes to make a decision and dismissed the warning as a false alarm.
  • Had he told his commanders of an imminent US nuclear strike, the Soviet leadership would have ordered a retaliatory strike.
  • Petrov reported a system malfunction and an investigation proved him right.
  • Several months later Petrov received an award “for services to the Fatherland” but the incident at the control centre was kept secret for many years.
  • In 1984, he left the military and settled in the town of Fryazino some 20 kilometres (12 miles) northeast of Moscow.
  • Petrov’s story only became known after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and he was subject of media reports in Russia and abroad.
  • “The Man Who Saved the World”, a documentary film directed by Danish filmmaker Peter Anthony and narrated by US actor Kevin Costner, was released in 2014.