Russian gamers race to prevent nuclear ‘war’

Highlights of the story

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

Russian officials are playing on fear, holding a mass nuclear exercise


“Attention! Attention!” shrill Russian from a megaphone. “Nuclear bombs will be launched in an hour.”

Inside a room designed to look like a Soviet-era nuclear bunker, a few Russians race to prevent a catastrophic attack on the United States.

Their mission – the latest craze in Moscow – is to find the nuclear launch code and deactivate a hidden red button, which has been pressed by a mad Russian general.

It’s purely imaginary; just an interactive game held in a building in the old industrial part of the city, harking back to the horrors of the Cold War.

But in light of current tensions with Russia, in which a potential nuclear confrontation with the West is once again on the rise, that’s a little worrisome.

A frenzied Russian general pressed the nuclear button - and gamers had to stop launching rockets

Maxim Motin, a Russian who just finished the game Red Button Quest, said: “I am worried because there is very stupid information from both sides.

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

However, Russian officials have been preparing the country for the possibility of conflict, raising deep concerns about its confrontational relationship with the West, Russia’s arch-rival in the Cold War.

Russian television broadcast a mass exercise, which involved 40 million people across the country. The government says it is designed to prepare for a chemical or nuclear attack.

Russia's Emergencies Ministry released this photo from a nationwide civil defense exercise

The video shows emergency personnel in protective suits and gas masks leading a civil defense exercise, the largest since the fall of the Soviet Union. It shows that the Kremlin wants the Russians to take the threat of war seriously.

Of course, full-scale conflict between Russia and the West remains highly unlikely.

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

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

“I don’t think there is a possibility of nuclear war,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a well-known foreign policy magazine.

“But when two nuclear superpowers are operating with their military machines in the same area, very close to each other, and they don’t have the right coordination, then anything goes wrong,” he told CNN. Anything can happen.

It’s a risk the Kremlin appears to be playing, as state television has raised its tough rhetoric in recent weeks.

On his top news programme, Russia’s top state news anchor, Dmitry Kiselyev – who critics have dubbed the Kremlin’s propaganda chief – recently issued a stark warning about war global war if Russian and American forces clash in Syria.

“Atrocities against Russia could be nuclear in size,” he stated.

The Russian Defense Ministry has also published details on the latest intercontinental ballistic missile added to the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Satan 2, as it is known, will be the world’s leading weapon of destruction, securing Russia’s position as a leading nuclear power.

It’s an apocalyptic perspective that adds a sense of realism to the fantasy quest being carried out by gamers in Moscow.

“I know that now in Russian schools, they tell the kids that our main enemy is America,” said Alisa Sokoleva, another gamer in Moscow.

“But that sounds ridiculous to me and I’m absolutely certain that war is impossible,” she added.

Mission game players - pretend to be a special operations team - are the only ones who can stop the war

Back in a fake Cold War bunker, Russian gamers cracked the launch code and deactivated the rocket launcher. It seems that the United States has once again been saved from this virtual Russian nuclear attack.

Hopefully the real world won’t have such a confrontation either. Russian gamers race to prevent nuclear ‘war’

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