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Russian players race to prevent nuclear ‘war’

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The latest Moscow craze is a war game in which players race to find nuclear codes

Russian officials are playing on fears by staging a mass nuclear exercise


“Warning warning!” yells the Russian voice from a loudspeaker. “The nuclear bombs will be launched in an hour.”

In a room designed as a Soviet-era nuclear bunker, a Russian couple rush to prevent a catastrophic strike on the United States.

Their quest – the latest craze in Moscow – is to find the nuclear launch codes and deactivate a hidden red button, which a crazed Russian general once pressed.

It’s complete fantasy; just an interactive game housed in a building in a former industrial area of ​​the city, reminiscent of Cold War scares.

But amid current tensions with Russia, in which a potential nuclear confrontation with the West has once again been mooted, that seems a little unsettling.

“I’m worried because there is very stupid information on both sides,” said Maxim Motin, a Russian who just finished the Red Button Quest game.

“I know normal people all over the world don’t want war,” he added.

But Russian officials have prepared the nation for the possibility of conflict, stoking deep concerns about a standoff with the West, Russia’s former Cold War rival.

Russian television broadcast a mass training exercise, involving up to 40 million people across the country. It is designed to prepare responses, according to the government, to a chemical or nuclear attack.

Russian players race to prevent nuclear ‘war’

The video shows rescue workers wearing protective suits and gas masks leading the civil defense rehearsal, the largest of its kind since the collapse of the Soviet Union. This suggests that the Kremlin wants the Russians to take the threat of war very seriously.

Of course, an all-out conflict between Russia and the West remains highly unlikely.

Analysts say the principle of Mutual Assured Destruction – or MAD – is still a deterrent, just as it was during the Cold War.

But with rising tensions over Syria, Ukraine and the Baltic states, analysts say a small risk of contact, misunderstanding and escalation between nuclear superpowers has become very real.

“I don’t think a nuclear war is likely,” says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a major foreign policy journal.

“But when two nuclear superpowers operate with their military machines in the same area, very close to each other and they don’t have good coordination, anything unintentional can happen,” he said. he told CNN.

It’s a risk the Kremlin seems willing to play, with state television having stepped up its hardline rhetoric in recent weeks.

In his flagship news program, Russia’s top state news anchor Dmitry Kiselyev – dubbed the Kremlin’s chief propagandist by critics – recently sounded a stern warning of world war if Russian and US forces get in the way. faced in Syria.

“Brutal behavior towards Russia could have nuclear dimensions,” he said.

The Russian Defense Ministry has also released details of the latest intercontinental ballistic missile added to its nuclear arsenal.

The Satan 2, as it is called, will be the world’s most destructive weapon, securing Russia’s place as the world’s leading nuclear power.

It’s an apocalyptic vision that adds an extra sense of realism to the fantasy quest players take in Moscow.

“I know that now in schools in Russia they tell children that our main enemy is the United States,” said Alisa Sokoleva, another player from Moscow.

“But that seems ridiculous to me and I am totally sure that war is impossible,” she adds.

Russian players race to prevent nuclear ‘war’

Back in the fake Cold War bunker, Russian players have cracked the launch codes and disabled the missile launch. The United States, it seems, has once again been saved from this virtual Russian nuclear attack.

Hopefully the real world will also be spared such a confrontation.

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