Vladimir Putin has sparked fears that he could be on the brink of launching a nuclear war, after a so-called “doomsday” plane was spotted over the skies of Moscow on Friday. “Doomsday” is the nickname given to a type of aircraft which is deployed as an airborne command post in the event of a nuclear war. The Russian President has on numerous occasions threatened to deploy his atomic arsenal against the West, if NATO continues to provide military assistance to Ukraine.
He recently reiterated that Moscow was prepared to use “all the forces and means at our disposal” to protect Russian territory, after illegally annexing four more Ukrainian provinces last week.
The Kremlin’s increasing nuclear rhetoric prompted US President Joe Biden to warn that the world faces the very real “prospect of Armageddon”.
He said that Putin was “not joking” and that the world faced for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis “a direct threat to the use of nuclear weapons.”
The Russian leader did nothing to dampen down fears of an imminent nuclear confrontation between Russia and the West.
An Ilyushin Il-96-400M was observed flying low over the skies of Moscow yesterday.
Scott Stedman, an investigative journalist and founder of Forensic News, tweeted: “An FSB (Federal Security Service) airborne command post plane, informally known as a “doomsday” plane, seems to be circling outside Moscow at a low altitude.”
The social media post was accompanied with a screenshot of the flight path of the aircraft over Moscow.
The Ilyushin Il-96-400M was initially intended to be used as a wide-body passenger airliner.
However, it was later decided to deploy the aircraft as a flying command post to be used in the event of nuclear war.
Voronezh Aircraft Production Association, the manufacturers of the plane, announced the change of plans in July last year.
A spokesperson for the company said: “Russian Aerospace Forces are going to receive two airborne command posts based on the Il-96-400M.
“One of them is currently in production.”
Russia has suffered severe and humiliating setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine over the last month, losing substantial ground both on the eastern and southern fronts.
Security experts fear that Putin could resort to desperate measures in an attempt to reverse the losses.
Some believe the Russian leader may try to use the recent illegal annexations 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 attack if the country’s sovereignty comes under threat.
The annexations make the currently contested areas in Ukraine effectively part of Russia, thereby opening the way to a potential deployment of atomic weapons.