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Stanislav Petrov, a Soviet officer who averted nuclear war, has died (rt.com)
534 points by apsec112 on Sept 18, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 131 comments

It may be that our biggest collective luck was that the alarm happened at the time subcolonel Petrov was on duty. He was an analyst, maybe even chief analyst of the unit, he authored the playbook for the officers on duty; being on duty wasn't his main job (source: https://cont.ws/@adviser095/717098 ), he would go on duty from time to time.

Due to his knowledge of the early warning system he was more likely to cast doubt than a regular officer on duty. Several factors looked suspicious: 1) The reported starts (5 in total) happened from a single base in the US which didn't make sense from the military point of view: the US would have put themselves at a grave disadvantage by sending just a few missiles; 2) They had visible light and infra-red visuals on the US territory and none of them checked out and 3) It would have been highly unlikely for the war to start suddenly, without any prior escalation.

Like other officers on duty, he had college education as an electronics engineer and additional 2 years of special training. All this probably helped him make the right decision.

This is not to take away from the importance of Mr.Petrov's heroic personal contribution: he definitely deserves recognition (which he didn't get from the Soviet Army and his own country BTW). Still I would also like to hope that we are all collectively not as stupid as to go caboom just because of the single fluke in the satellite system.

> 1) The reported starts (5 in total) happened from a single base in the US which didn't make sense from the military point of view: the US would have put themselves at a grave disadvantage by sending just a few missiles

There was an interview with Petrov (in the 90s or 00s) when he spoke about this point, and the interviewer said that in 1983, the US plans for a preemptive strike started with a "beheading strike", in which a few missiles would be sent to hit the Kremlin and a handful strategic military bases. Then the US would wait if the Soviets were still twitching, in which case the second, more massive round would've been fired. Petrov admitted that, if he had known that, he would've decided differently on that fateful day.

(Don't have a direct source link to back this up, sorry. My source is one of the earlier episodes of https://alternativlos.org where they talked about the Cold War.)

One would think proper first strikes would be compromised of SLBMs.

Then again, it's not a proper Cold War strategic game theory play unless you're banking on your enemy to hesitate due to the unusual nature of the attack. SLBMs scream first strike, while a few birds out of many launching from farm country in the central United States in sequential fashion, not so much.

That said, I'm not sure what would have consituted "twitching" after Soviet C&C is wiped out, and if I was a planner at the time I don't think I'd want to find out. It would likely have been prudent to immediately follow up the decapitation strike with complete annihilation of Soviet nuclear retaliatory capability. Every deployed Soviet boomer accounted for and shadowded, with firing solutions computed. Every missile silo targeted. Presumably strategic air bases would be targeted in the first volley, though there would remain the possibility of strategic bomber patrols already airborne.

First strikes are really messy and entail a ridiculous amount of risk. Considering the stakes, it's no wonder neither side ever tried.



Interesting, I never knew that grammatical holy war existed. Learn something new every day.

The original mistake was just an autocorrect error. Some day I'll learn not to write posts from mobile devices.

Also, I noticed you created an account just for this. Assuming it isn't a throwaway, welcome to HN. That's a cool username.

Whilst "comprised" is a bit clunky, it's also not wrong in the slightest.


"The factory was to be a vast installation, comprising fifty buildings" is the same kind of use.

FWIW, I assumed autocorrect and wasn't trying to start any wars. :)

No offense taken, I even upvoted both corrections.

This plan strikes me as idiotic TBH. The Kremlin is situated smack dab in the center of the most populous city in Russia, Moscow. You can’t take out just the Kremlin without taking out millions of people in the process. And even if you could, the USSR would have no choice but to respond. It’s like someone nuked the White House. Rockets would be flying within minutes.

Nowadays there’s an automated system in place that ensures a response even if the entire high command is taken out: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Hand_(nuclear_war)

Well... to that page's credit somewhere halfway down it does mention that the existence of a dead hand is only a hypothesis. I suppose it's just one more onto the pile of things from Dr. Strangelove that people interpret as absolute fact.

Of course it’s a “hypothesis”. No one wants to drink polonium tea after confirming it.

The whole point of a doomsday device is lost if you keep it a secret! But, a little bit of polonium in your tea is nothing compared to the international conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

Not really. It’s like Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Not confirming its existence allows Israel to stay out of the various treaties, but is there any doubt that they have it?

> started with a "beheading strike"

Wow, so given Petrov's response, this plan might have actually worked. Those clever generals. (Insert emoticon of me being horrified right now..)

It's difficult to imagine Soviet SSBN commanders realizing their country had been nuked and thinking "If only my superior officer was around to give me the order to strike back!"

There isn't really a workable first strike plan, and that's probably a good thing.

>Don't have a direct source link to back this up, sorry.

So why you're spreading FUD, if you have nothing to prove your point?

Yesterday I read an article about this man, and I would say that the year'83 was not actually without (possible) escalations. On the 1st of September, a Korean airplane with 200+ civilians was shot because an "ordinary" officer simply sent a report that a "jumbo jet" was flying over soviet area - and it was "probably a US spying airplane" (that was the idea). Now, if this guy had mentioned "it's a civil airplane, a boeing", I am quite sure things would have been different.

The reason Petrov is to be considered a hero of old times is not just because he was able to spot a mistake, but to report something different from what he saw. He took the liberty to decide for an entire nation, and as he also admitted, the 12-13 minutes during which these potential nukes were supposed to reach their final destination were "really long". If he had been so certain, he'd have had no issues - he based his decision on his instinct.

If he had simply followed the rules (pretty common in a military hierarchy), we'd probably not be here today. This is what makes this man exceptional - the fact that in the end he even got scolded for not obeying the rules, and that he died "almost" in misery.

I wonder if there are other, still classified instances where the weapon has almost been launched. If lt. colonel Petrov was aware of the limitations of the early warning system then there must have been other faults as well - I bet there have been problems with the early warning system on both sides...

I recently read the non-fiction book Command And Control by Eric Schlosser. It's structured around an incident when a Titan II missile blew up in its silo in Arkansas, throwing the warhead out of the silo and into the air.

Anyway, it uses that incident to go back in history and explain the development of nuclear weapons and how the command and control systems we have today came about. A lot of it was driven to prevent all sorts of near-miss accidents that have happened in the past. We've been really, really lucky.

Highly recommend the book, especially for the HN crowd. It's good prose, but gets deep enough into the tech and system details that you come away with a solid understanding of how it all works.

This was made into a documentary and is currently available on Netflix. If you can spare 90 minutes check it out, it's a hell of a good watch.


The Okinawa missiles of October was a story that looked like a close call (to me at least!). It was on HN couple of years ago


There was an incident in 1979 where a US military center thought Russia was firing.

Ever hear of the bomb the US accidentally dropped on the mainland? When they recovered it, they discovered the bomb had armed itself and that all the safety mechanisms failed except one.

What the hell?! How many times are we going to be lucky before something goes very wrong. I hope they are a lot more careful now, and I mean all sides.

That's why redundant systems are good. It worked as designed.

Ignoring the warning for 1) and 3) would have been a mistake in a Dr Strangelove scenario.

This is tragic.

The anniversary of the crisis Petrov saved us from is coming up soon, on September 26th. There's a ritual/ceremony that I and some others have been observing yearly on that day, which I recently put online at http://petrovday.com/, which talks about that (and the world's other close calls, and historical context).

That's a great idea, awareness needs to be spread about how lucky we are.

This remind me of a recurring theme in "Doctor Who" fictional stories (I'm bing watching right now).

There no such thing as an unimportant person because countless time in the stories the world or even the universe have been saved by ordinary people and nobody will ever know about them.

Only this is real life, this is deeply amazing. I feel so much gratitude and kindnesses for this man. RIP Станислав Евграфович Петров

PS: added emphasis on Fictional stories for clarity.

> There no such thing as an unimportant person

And on that theme, when I wore uniform we were told never to use the term VIP but instead NP, Notable Person. Which I thought was a good workaround as it separated fame from "importance"

Perl Conference first-time attendees are VIPs: very important to Perl. This separates authority from importance. This might be their only visit, so we should make it worthwhile.

On the theme that anyone can save the world, I think of the Lord of the Rings. And particularly of Samwise Gamgee.

> recurring theme in doctor who stories

For others confused like me: recurring theme in the Doctor Who stories.

I corrected for clarity.

But some fans would cringe because you can refer to "Doctor Who" as the show or "The Doctor" for the character but "The Doctor Who" Make no sense so your initial correction might be even more confusing to some ;)

But you would use the phrase the Doctor Who show. As The wasn't capitalized is how I would read it.

So let's get to the bottom of this as english is not my mother tong and I will gladly learn new tricks. Does that mean that my sentence (with correction) is wrong because "the" is mandatory in this context?

No, it's perfect as is. Eg: Wikipedia's use of "Br'er Rabbit stories" here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br%27er_Rabbit

Hey, it's a fellow Doctor Who fan (seems rare)! Also binge watching recently, and yes, good point.

Doctor Who fans - Rare? In what universe, Doctor Who is mainstream now.

Not really. Certainly in some circles it is. It was on Netflix in the US for a while; not sure it still is.

Perhaps the better story for this audience is the one about the electrical engineer who nearly caused nuclear war...

I imagine this was said a bit tongue-in-cheek but seriously tho, that would not be the better story since the reality of engineering is mistakes happen. Bugs exist in every system. Yes, these might even cause nuclear war and that's why the 'better story for this audience' is why it didn't.


Whoever was responsible for the fault that detected the sun rays as incoming missiles.

Another Soviet officer who also probably prevented nuclear war was Vasili Arkhipov.[1]

"On 27 October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a group of eleven United States Navy destroyers and the aircraft carrier USS Randolph located the diesel-powered, nuclear-armed Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine B-59 near Cuba. Despite being in international waters, the Americans started dropping signaling depth charges, explosives intended to force the submarine to come to the surface for identification. There had been no contact from Moscow for a number of days and, although the submarine's crew had earlier been picking up U.S. civilian radio broadcasts, once B-59 began attempting to hide from its U.S. Navy pursuers, it was too deep to monitor any radio traffic. Those on board did not know whether war had broken out or not. The captain of the submarine, Valentin Grigorievitch Savitsky, decided that a war might already have started and wanted to launch a nuclear torpedo.

"Unlike the other subs in the flotilla, three officers on board the B-59 had to agree unanimously to authorize a nuclear launch: Captain Savitsky, the political officer Ivan Semonovich Maslennikov, and the second-in-command Arkhipov. Typically, Russian submarines armed with the "Special Weapon" only required the captain to get authorization from the political officer to launch a nuclear torpedo. However, due to Arkhipov's position as flotilla commander, the B-59's captain also was required to gain Arkhipov's approval. An argument broke out, with only Arkhipov against the launch.

"Even though Arkhipov was only second-in-command of the submarine B-59, he was in fact commander of the entire submarine flotilla, including the B-4, B-36 and B-130, and equal in rank to Captain Savitsky. According to author Edward Wilson, the reputation Arkhipov had gained from his courageous conduct in the previous year's Soviet submarine K-19 incident also helped him prevail. Arkhipov eventually persuaded Savitsky to surface and await orders from Moscow. This effectively averted the nuclear warfare which probably would have ensued if the nuclear weapon had been fired. The submarine's batteries had run very low and the air-conditioning had failed, causing extreme heat and high levels of carbon dioxide inside the submarine. They were forced to surface amidst its U.S. pursuers and return to the Soviet Union as a result.

"Immediately upon return to Russia, many crew members were faced with disgrace from their superiors. One admiral told them "It would have been better if you'd gone down with your ship."..."

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasili_Arkhipov

>"Immediately upon return to Russia, many crew members were faced with disgrace from their superiors. One admiral told them "It would have been better if you'd gone down with your ship."..."

The main point here - this has shown that Soviet officers were reluctant to carry orders, and if ordered "fight to the bitter end," would betray the political leadership

It showed that no matter of what Soviet political establishment tries, it would be unable to force the military to blindly follow the protocol. The fact that this got uncovered and publicised displeased the higher ups in the military because this endangered their positions, by rendering them incapable of instilling that order.

I first heard of his death in a very niche subreddit and only by chance. He died in May and only now we know it. I was wondering how long it'd take for mainstream media to pick up.

He was truly a hero, without his reaction a good chunk of this planet would be nuclear wasteland.

Mainstream media? This is an rt.com article, a mouthpiece for the Kremlin.

Its affiliation doesn't make it any less mainstream.

I think OP might have been disputing the "media" part rather than the "mainstream" part.

It's arguably more mainstream than a niche subreddit,no?

On the other hand, there are more trustworthy news outlets.

As far as I know, they had this story before anyone else did.

Which subreddit was that, if you don't mind?

/r/slatestarcodex if I didn't typo on my phone.

It's an interesting sub, sometimes a thought provoking article bubbles up to my front-page which is always a bit of a joy, Tho sometimes a bit of garbage bubbles up too.

I don't think /r/slatestarcodex, and especially the blog it's related to, is that niche among HN readers :)

I wasn't aware slatestarcodex is popular on HN, that's quite interesting news to me...

Petrov's story is a really good example of why employing smart people and trusting them beats procedures and metrics every time. May he rest in peace.

You can’t take this case and generalize. In fact, the US’ strategy was a first strike with a handful of nukes and a second, huge wave after the first strike took out main communication/decision centers. So if this had been a real strike, having this intelligent person disregard protocol could have ended in a disaster for the Soviet Union.

…On the other hand, a not-so-intelligent person that blindly followed protocol would have caused the downfall of the US and Soviet Union and the death of hundreds of millions of people all over the world.

We all just got lucky.

>>So if this had been a real strike, having this intelligent person disregard protocol could have ended in a disaster for the Soviet Union.

It would have been a disaster anyway, if it was a real strike Soviet Union couldn't prevent it in any feasible way. The only thing they could possibly do was level the United States, but it wouldn't change the outcome for them.

>On the other hand, a not-so-intelligent person that blindly followed protocol would have caused the downfall of the US and Soviet Union

I was reading on the Cuban missile crisis last night. There not one but several instances where the Americans said 'if x happens, we nuke the soviets', and then when x happened they didn't (for example, the downed U2 incident). The Soviets probably had just as many of those incidents. I think it really shows that deep down nobody was actually ready to go to war, so in all the chances they had to launch they chose instead not to.

The Cuban Missile Crisis is fascinating. I think the US military was absolutely ready to go to war, but thankfully they were reined in by the civilian leadership. Some parts of the US military had been pushing for a preemptive strike on the Soviets for years (thinking, correctly, that the Soviets had little capability to strike back at the US, but that it would not remain that way for much longer) and saw Cuba as a good opportunity to finally get it done. That scene from Dr. Strangelove where General Turgidson says the US would "get our hair mussed" with a mere 10-20 million dead was a pretty accurate portrayal of how a lot of the military leadership thought. And they pushed Kennedy hard to go to war. A more bellicose president could have easily been swayed by them, and we'd be living in a different world today.

Even if communications network were destroyed the early warning burnkers could launch rockets that would fly over silos and broadcast directly the launch order.


I'm reminded by the movie WarGames when the nuke officers (not sure the actual designation) are replaced by relays...

I'm just glad the officer-just-doing-his-job expects systems to fail & trust hsi own judgment, instead of our current ever-increasing trust in machines

In Wargames they detected a massive preemptive attack. One of the things that tipped off the officer in this case was that it was such a small scale attack, which doesn't make sense because it leaves the enemy willing and able to respond.

From the article:

Taught that in case of a real attack the US would have gone on an all-out offensive, Petrov told his bosses the alarm must have been caused by a system malfunction.

This should actually sound the alarm: The decision (and the alarms) were so randomly affected by life unbalances. This means that a whole system of nuclear missiles might be just waiting for the right random wrong moment to unleash hell on humans.

Obligatory post on this thread due to my username (chosen to honor him).

The prevalence of close calls on the Soviet side, and their likely existence on the American side too, suggests thst the MAD system is robust to false positives.

Can you quantify "robust"?

The fact that these incidents have happened and armageddon has not yet happened suggests that the probability of accidental nuclear war is relatively low. But how low? Maybe the odds are one in a million per year. Maybe the odds are one in a hundred per year. I'd say that both numbers are compatible with the publicly known facts, but result in wildly different conclusions. The former number suggests that nuclear war is a minor worry and we should concentrate elsewhere. The latter suggests that human civilization is very likely to be destroyed in this way, and we should do everything possible to avert it.

When I play Russian Roulette, and I pull the trigger four times with no ill effects, that does not indicate that the revolver is robust against false firings. This is the poster child for survivourship bias.

How robust are we talking about? Do you think the odds of a nuclear war in your lifetime are <1%? I certainly do not.

On a time scale of about 50 years.

I watched this documentary about him and that event http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2277106/

It's a good watch. RIP Stanislav Petrov.

It was later revealed that what the Soviet satellites took for missiles launch was sunlight reflected from clouds

I hope detection systems improved since the 80s.

According to the article, Petrov actually died on May 19th.

Yes, but it seems as though no one outside of Petrov's family knew about it until just now.

When AIs are making life and death decisions (because there are only microseconds to act), will they hold their fire in the name of humanitarianism? Would an AI have launched the missiles?

You've misunderstood the story. Petrov didn't defy high-level Soviet goals in the name of humanitarianism: the goal was to fire back if fired upon and _not_ to fire back if not fired upon. Petrov's achievement was making the right judgment call that the US had not actually fired on Russia (i.e. that it was a detection anomaly or something). Given that he wasn't deviating from the high-level goals handed down, I don't see why an AI would be different in that regard.

Correct, it's actually likely that a good AI would also conclude, just like Petrov did, that this is not an attack, given everything that was expected from a real attack at the time. If they simply wired a launch detector to the button that launches nukes, then that's not AI.

I look forward to the debugging cycle of such an AI. After a few failures it will work perfectly:)

Let’s not connect autonomous AIs to our nuclear weapons launch systems, please!

Glory for a true hero. Thank you, Mr Petrov.

If I had my druthers only two people would be recognized as individuals with a national holiday in the US: Stanislav Petrov and Norman Borlaug.

When "just doing my job" saves the world.

“My cozy armchair felt like a red-hot frying pan and my legs went limp. I felt like I couldn't even stand up. That's how nervous I was when I was taking this decision,” he told RT.

How well would any of us have done in that situation? It's tempting to think that we'd have said no, don't launch. But picture yourself as a military commander, raised in that lifestyle. Then add the natural inclination to freeze up and make bad choices under pressure.

It's also a lesson in secrecy. We almost didn't hear about this story. It was kept secret for a decade. How many secrets are you sitting on, bound by your NDAs? Will you ever make the important ones public a decade later, or will you decide it's not your position, or that it might affect your career?

It's easy to rationalize that it isn't our position to say anything about what we know. But it's also too easy.

I wish it were possible to make a service that lets you upload encrypted notes that will be made public after your death. But those two requirements conflict.

> I wish it were possible to make a service that lets you upload encrypted notes that will be made public after your death. But those two requirements conflict.

Don't people do this using a lawyer / testament?

If you don't want the lawyer to know the contents either, encrypt it and give the key to another lawyer.

Asking people to trust lawyers might strike some as being a bit optimistic, but I haven't come across problems with people who are privileged to my information yet. Doctors, lawyers, accountants.

You might worry about the guy's infosec, but then I counter a lawyer is more likely to use a safe or other non-digital tech than most people.

I wish it were possible to make a service that lets you upload encrypted notes that will be made public after your death.

That sounds like an awesome startup idea. Except that the startup will run out of money after two years and sell your secrets to the highest bidder. Or they will become big enough to be bought by one of the Internet majors who will just shut down the servers and keep the developers.

I believe there is already a startup attempting to fill a similar niche called "Dead Mans Switch"[1]

[1] https://www.deadmansswitch.net/help/

> How well would any of us have done in that situation? It's tempting to think that we'd have said no, don't launch. But picture yourself as a military commander, raised in that lifestyle. Then add the natural inclination to freeze up and make bad choices under pressure.

Worse. Much worse. Imagine 1 further thought at the back of your head: Even if I get this absolutely right and avert WW3, there's an 80% chance I get shot and my family ends up in Siberia. My only way out of this is lucking out about the mood of my whole chain of command, up to and including the paranoid tyrant on top, who may worry I am creating precedent for not following orders to the letter. This may be how my life ends, and that's if I successfully avoid a nuclear holocaust.

Not exactly that service -- too much uncertainty about when quantum computers will get cheap enough -- but https://defuse.ca/quantum-computer-time-capsule.htm

>I wish it were possible to make a service that lets you upload encrypted notes that will be made public after your death. But those two requirements conflict.

That's a very interesting idea. What do you mean by the "requirements conflict"?

Couldn't it be implemented with a dead man's switch where one would check in every year or so. Of course there would need to be some verification methods baked in to thwart pranksters.

> What do you mean by the "requirements conflict"?

Possibly that such a dead man's switch would require the keys to be outside of your control to some extent - after all, if you die the day after resetting the switch, any infrastructure owned, maintained, or paid for by you might not exist for the switch to fire. If you give the keys to a third-party, you have to trust they aren't reading the contents and that their security measures are sufficient.

It could be done on an ad-hoc basis if you have a trusted third-party (close friend, for instance), but it's difficult to see how it could be scaled into a service. Perhaps it could be split into two parties - you upload the encrypted notes to the service, but they don't get the keys. You pass the keys to a trusted third-party (i.e. the close friend), who can make the notes public by giving the keys to the notes holder, who (ideally) would verify the death via public records. This avoids giving the secrets directly to the friend (in case of disagreements etc.), and you can reverse the decision whilst you are still alive (by deleting the notes).

Also, depending on the nature of the secrets, it does provide an incentive for death.

There are no keys to launch infrastructure in Russian military. The few things amounting to that are the key codes stored in sealed containers that open code locks on control panels with physical launch buttons. The steel plate that cover the launch panel at Topol TEL can be easily cut open with a power tool.

Topol missiles have literally only 5 control inputs available to the launch crew:

1. raise the launch tower, 2. lower the launch tower, 3. arm the missile, 4. disarm the missile, 5. launch the missile

All missiles are programmed at the factory. Precise start coordinates are held by a separate navigation receiver at the missile TEL, and if the receiver fails, there are multiple redundant fallbacks.

The only way a crew can mess up the launch is to override the start coordinates with manual input.

You could make a time triggered death man switch that needs to be reset every year. Else your secret is decrypted

But if the system can decrypt itself in your absence it must have access to the decryption keys. So you can't guarantee that the subsequent maintainer of the system won't release the keys after your death. I suppose you could hide the system somewhere (anonymous VPS) but then the encryption isn't actually buying you anything over what the anonymity is getting you.

You could use public key system to your advantage. Devise a cryptosystem that takes x time to crack, write a program to crack it, let it roll. If you're alive at the time of vulnerability being found, you can adjust or change the key.

Likewise it would be a good case for a proof of work system with specialized single machine input. You have to prove x amount of work every so often to keep the data encrypted.

If the notes are encrypted, you hold the keys. If the service held the keys, no one would use it. But that means the notes can't be decrypted upon your death, since the keys would need to be uploaded at that point.

Simple solution: subcutaneous key implant. Someone has to physically cut you open to decrypt your notes.

Hopefully your attackers are not too determined... but then again, any system where your death results in decryption has that particular flaw. A bigger problem is if you die in such a way that your body can't be recovered.

I don't know if that's what he meant by "conflict", but it does provide an incentive for one's death

> How many secrets are you sitting on, bound by your NDAs

Zero. I don't sign NDA's.


I feel like that only works while you're young and in demand. Give it a decade or so. But I'm curious about your strategy.

There are many contexts that you simply can't work for someone if you won't sign an NDA. It'd be interesting to know the areas where that isn't true.

I work in cloud infrastructure, and I cannot recall anyone here signing an NDA. Instead, our senior architects are giving talks about our network design etc. at prestigious conferences to earn street cred for the company.


The concept that people 'believe' the USSR would not have considered that a satellite might give off a false positive seems the most important piece thing to learn here.

It sounds like a well trained person, who was good at their job, did their job well. Had they not of, which we all know happens, it would have been caught up the chain.

It seems like people are more surprised that a Soviet officer was an intelligent, controlled human being and I think this says more about us than anything else.

Im pretty sure, similar stories happend in the US, but as the winner gets to write history, this page did not made it to print.

Anyone with the appropriate level of SIOP access (these days called OPLAN 8010-12) won't be talking.

The 'winner' of the cold war?

So, how many Western countries will erect a statue for him?

And in those countries, how many generations will pass before the mob demands the statue be torn down?

Do not sully this man by attempting to associate him with people whose only notable achievement was fighting for the right to own other people.


Can you provide an example of where it's wrong?

rt.com is a russian tv station funded by the government. It is a proganda outlet for Russia. one can assume kgb involvement and vetting of their stories.

so this story seems benign enough, but bear in mind the source and consider what their motivations might be.


Similar to the BBC for England or many countries which have state television.

Not really.

The BBC is a pretty independent body, and criticizes the government often. RT is a propaganda arm of the government and is under its direct control, as all mass media in Russia now (with few exceptions).

The BBC is quite balanced, I watch Russia today and find it similar in tone to most western outlets, both state owned and private ... screeching on about terrorism. Repetitive, mundane. They’re all quite openly propagandistic from my point of view.


This comment breaks the HN guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html. We ban accounts that do this, so would you please read them and follow them when commenting here from now on?

You seem a little paranoid there, no I’m not a Russian employee, I know RT will be pro-Russian. Don’t fool yourself western media ha bounds to it’s criticism too, due to the way it’s structured. Anyway the piece in question is on a well known Soviet hero, I had heard of him before. Cheers to him.

The USSR put the first objects and people into space. They also built armaments that could compete with NATO's best.

Meanwhile, today in North Korea it's pretty different.

Who knows what kind of systems they have in place to detect US attacks and how faulty and flawed they are likely to be and how unstable the people on top of them are and it's really something to fear.

Who knows what kind of systems they have in place to detect US attacks and how faulty and flawed they are likely to be and how unstable the people on top of them are and it's really something to fear.

It's easier, there the top leader decides and he loves his life: "Should you launch something at us, we know where you are (show a few slides) and will launch x nuclear weapons personally at you, wiping your entire family."

USSR had a leader but also the Politburo, in NK we have everything in one, and so far for three generations. Maybe relay the same threat to the top generals and you're done. Make it personal. Not your country, but your family will go go first. The country will follow...

As a religious person it is my belief that only divine protection saved us from nuclear annihilation during that era. If you think about the primitive state of that technology, the amount of brutal, stupid men that walked around in the military and the number of close calls, you really have to wonder how it did not happen.

Love science and also believe in God too. When I read about incidents like this, this quote from psalms comes to mind: "When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars."

> the primitive state of that technology, the amount of brutal, stupid men that walked around in the military and the number of close calls

History (and present) is filled with occasions where you can use that same quote. I agree with the luck of not having bombed ourselves yet though.

The way I rationalize it is that the human behaviour is extremely complex and it's very difficult to try and understand the reasons why some things happen (or do not happen), perhaps there's a subtlety that is not visible for most people unrelated with the powers that be.

Really respectful to take away his heroic act and give credit to a fantasy-figure. /s

Why does believing God was involved mean Petrov wasn't heroic? Perhaps God was why the hero Petrov was there when he was?

Because it's fucking stupid and below HN. You are still giving a fantasy figure the credit since he put the right guy there.

Religious flamewar is not allowed on HN. Please don't post like this here, regardless of how wrong or annoying other comments are.


Well, it is not disallowed like you say but I see what you mean. I would edit away the first sentence but I can't anymore.

> Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents.

This is what I responded to in the first place, flamebait. But I would have no issues saying the first sentence in real life, to the face of anyone making such a comment. I did not know how else to put it because it seriously makes zero sense and is impossible to debate.

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