Home | About | Donate

The Man Who Saved the World

The Man Who Saved the World

Gwynne Dyer

Stanislav Petrov was never famous in Russia, just another forgotten pensioner, so the news of his death at 77 in Moscow on 19 May only recently reached other countries. He wasn’t all that famous abroad either, but people in the know think he may have saved the world from nuclear war.


Thank you, Mr. Dyer, for the reminder. I’ll be raising a glass to his life and his courage, come next Tuesday.

People need to know his name by heart.


Definitely he deserves many thanks from all.


Brave man Mr. Petrov,

Nuclear weapons. Our government says we need them as a deterrent. Deterrent to what?

If our enemies have them, we have to have them.

What bullshit.

It’s becoming clearer that the fate of humanity rests in the hands of very few humans.

This is an extremely high risk way to survive.

Rational minded people must speak up for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament.

Even the poorly educated who voted for the human that is pretending to be president of our country cannot embrace the idea of their children and grandchildren being annihilated in a Nuclear Holocaust because the senile sissy in the White House has to act like the neighborhood bully to impress his own young son or to get laid by his trophy wife who acts like she’d rather be someplace else.

Occasionally, technology produces something that is so destructive and toxic to humanity that it would be better had it never been invented.

I’m sorry for rambling on.


I would like to see mass media promote this piece. It would be wonderful to see it read to the Congressional Military Complex and have their reactions recorded and publicized.


This wasn’t the first time that a Soviet officer may have saved the world. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 the American blockade of Cuba produced some very tense moments between Soviet subs and American warships. At one point a Soviet sub was certain that they were about to be fired upon by a Navy ship and the Captain was preparing to fire a nuclear-tipped torpedo. He was prevented from doing so by another Russian officer who was not convinced of the threat to the submarine. He turned out to be correct and, if the sub had destroyed the Navy ship, it could have very likely triggered what the war planners call a “nuclear exchange” that could have led to war. The article is correct. It was very, very lucky that we got out of the more overt forms of the Cold War without annihilating ourselves. I still remember when that idiot Ronnie the Raygun got on the radio and announced that the bombing of Russia would begin in 5 minutes. That open mike gaffe was news all over the world.
There are still about 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world only a fraction of which are more than enough to render much of the Earth uninhabitable for a very long time.


Mr. Petrov example should be used whenever one comes across an official (corporate or governmental) who insists that ‘rules are rules’ or ‘just following orders’.

1 Like

Thank you Mr. Dyer for this little known piece of history. Yes, hard to imagine what went through that man’s mind in those 23 minutes.

1 Like

There’s just one little footnote that should be added to this story about Mr. Petrov.

As he recalls, the malfunctioning system reported five incoming missiles, and Mr. Petrov quite reasonably assessed that an American surprise attack would not involve just five missiles; if they were going to conduct a surprise attack, he thought, they would of course fire hundreds of missiles, not just five. So he waited.

But he was wrong. We now know that American war plans at the time called for firing a handful of missiles and detonating them over Russian command and control centers, blinding Russian radar.

What Petrov saw on his screen was exactly what a real attack would have looked like.