The Man Who Saved the World

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Stanislav Petrov is seen as a hero, because he prevented the worst event from happening. This is the man who saved the world.


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Voiceover by Carl Mason: [email protected]

Number 10 Early Life
Stanislav Petrov was born near Vladivostok on September 7, 1939. In 1983, Petrov was the person in charge when the early-warning system malfunctioned.
Number 7 Growing Tensions
These all contributed to growing tensions between them, with sporadic boiling points. This would have placed the American eastern coastline in range.
Number 6 1983
The Soviet Union was led by Yuri Andropov and Ronald Reagan was the US President. The Kremlin, Andropov and the KGB were on high alert. The Soviet Union was tense, nervous and ready to respond to any sign.
Number 5 1983 False Alarm
On September 26, 1983, he was the on-duty officer in a bunker near Moscow, which housed the command center of Soviet early-warning satellites. According to Petrov himself, sirens were howling and red lights were flashing. Unbeknownst to him, the false alarm had been caused by an alignment of the satellites’ orbit and sunlight reflecting of high-altitude clouds above North Dakota.
Number 4 Protocol
The Soviet satellite early warning network was regarded as highly reliable. Petrov’s responsibility was to promptly run the information up the chain of command so that retaliatory measures could be taken. He was a crucial link between information and decision-making.
Number 3 Petrov’s Intervention
The reason why Petrov is often hailed as the man who saved the world is that he went against Soviet protocol and took the warning exactly for what it was – a false alarm. Even though he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, Petrov kept his composure as the five missiles were detected, one after the other. The only aspect he eventually reported to his superiors was a system malfunction. Major cities would fall and modern technology would shut down.
Number 2 Moments of Clarity
As the alarms were blaring around him, Petrov claimed that he almost couldn’t move. He knew what he had to do but something wasn’t right. When talking about the 1983 false alarm incident in subsequent interviews, Petrov attributed his decision to a few moments of clarity. He didn’t view the launch detection system as trustworthy, since it was still rather new. That being said, even Petrov himself claimed that he was never truly sure about the true nature of the alarm. It was ultimately a matter of trusting his instincts. His decision of treating it like a false alarm was followed by the longest 23 minutes of his life.
Number 1 Aftermath
Following the incident Petrov was intensely questioned by his superiors and extensively investigated. He’d initially praised Petrov and even promised him a reward. That never happened, as it would’ve meant the Soviets admitting the critical failure of their early warning system. Petrov kept quiet for many years about his actions. The incident became known to the public after Votintsev published his memoirs in 1998. As more media attention was brought to Petrov, he started giving interviews and also received multiple international awards and commendations.

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