Russian President Vladimir Putin made a rare trip out of the country this week when he attended the Belt and Road Summit in Beijing. He brought along his entourage — as well as what many speculate to be his nuclear briefcase.
Knewz.com confirmed that the sighting of Putin and a briefcase was filmed after a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping as the Russian autocrat walked to another engagement while flanked by his security detail.
Two uniformed Russian naval officers tailed the group and each carried a briefcase, one of which is rumored to be the key to nuclear armageddon.
Named the “Cheget” (after Mount Cheget in the Caucasus Mountains), the device is traditionally carried by a naval officer who is never far from the Russian autocrat and is rarely ever filmed, Reuters reported.
Putin was later seen on camera exiting a building and descending stairs as the naval officers walked nearby.
Russian state media, RIA, noted the anomaly and commented on a post of the video that made its way to the messaging platform, Telegram: “There are certain suitcases without which no trip of Putin's is complete.”
The device is believed to be a secure communication node capable of connecting its user, in this case Putin, via a secure network to the officials who are in charge of launching Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
Al Jazeera reported the case itself contains a console with an array of buttons that is activated by a flashcard.
Once the card has been inserted, the console activates. Among its numerous controls are two buttons — one for launching a nuclear warhead and the other for canceling the launch.
Al Jazeera noted two more of these suitcases exist and they are currently in the care of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
The sighting comes with the news that the Duma, Russia's equivalent of parliament, passed legislature to revoke their part in the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which prohibits the use of nuclear testing, per Reuters.
Putin had told the Duma to make the change in order to "mirror" the position of the United States, which like Russia, signed the treaty in 1996 but never ratified it.
With the passage of the bill on October 18, Russia's legal stance on nuclear testing is now aligned with that of the United States.
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Despite this development, Russia claims that it will not resume atomic testing unless the United States does so first.
However, arms control experts at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute are concerned that Russia may be heading towards a test. The think tank fears such an action would be interpreted by the West as an escalation amid the conflict in Ukraine.
This, in turn, could lead to reciprocal behavior and China, India, and Pakistan also resuming nuclear testing, potentially triggering a new global arms race, according to experts.
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