Moscow – President Vladimir Putin stoked fears that he could be on the verge of launching a nuclear war, after a Russian “doomsday” plane was spotted over Moscow’s skies on Friday. “Doomsday” is the nickname given to the type of aircraft that is deployed as an air command post in the event of a nuclear war.
An Ilyushin Il-96-400M aircraft was observed flying low over Moscow yesterday. “An FSB (Federal Security Service) airborne command post plane, informally known as a ‘doomsday’ plane, appears to be circling outside Moscow at low altitude,” tweeted Scott Stedman, an investigative journalist and founder of Forensic News, as quoted by Reuters. from Express.co.uk, Saturday (8/10/2022).
The social media post was accompanied by a screenshot of the plane’s flight path over Moscow. The Ilyushin Il-96-400M was originally intended for use as a wide-body passenger aircraft. However, it was later decided to use the aircraft as a flying command post to be used in the event of a nuclear war.
The Voronezh Aircraft Production Association, the aircraft manufacturer, announced the change of plans in July last year. “The Russian Aerospace Forces will receive two air command posts based on the Il-96-400M,” a company spokesman said. “One of them is in production,” he added.
Putin himself has his own “doomsday” plane, known as the “Flying Kremlin”. The aircraft was an Ilyushin Il-80 aircraft, a modified version of the Il-86 passenger and cargo aircraft. It has no windows, apart from the cockpit, to ensure maximum protection from nuclear explosions.
The “Flying Kremlin” offers special communications equipment, located in a dome on the fuselage that reportedly prevents exposure to electromagnetic attacks. In the event of a nuclear war, the Russian leader and his comrades will use the aircraft to ensure a continuous chain of command and communication. Russia has suffered a severe and humiliating setback on the battlefield in Ukraine over the past month, losing substantial territory on both the eastern and southern fronts.
Security experts worry that Putin could take desperate measures in an attempt to reverse the losses. Some believe the Russian leader may be trying to use the recent illegal annexation of more Ukrainian territory as a pretext to launch a nuclear strike.
According to Russia’s nuclear doctrine, it could launch a first strike nuclear strike if the country’s sovereignty was threatened. The annexation makes the currently contested territory in Ukraine effectively a part of Russia, thus paving the way for the potential deployment of atomic weapons.
The Russian president has threatened on numerous occasions to deploy his atomic arsenal against the West, if NATO continues to provide military assistance to Ukraine. He recently reiterated that Moscow is ready to use “all the forces and means at our disposal” to protect Russian territory, having illegally annexed four Ukrainian provinces last week. The Russian leader did nothing to quell fears of an imminent nuclear confrontation between Russia and the West.
The Kremlin’s escalating nuclear rhetoric prompted US President Joe Biden to warn that the world faces the very real “prospect of Armageddon”. He said Putin was “not kidding” and the world for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis faced a direct threat to the use of nuclear weapons.