Putin's nuclear briefcase made an appearance at the Victory Day parade
Putin’s nuclear briefcase made an appearance at the Victory Day parade (Picture: east2west/ Reuters)

If irony is lost on one man, it sure is Vladimir Putin who showed off a nuclear briefcase – which could be used to start World War Three – during a parade to honour the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany.

Russia marked its annual Victory Day, all the while soldiers push against Ukraine’s Western-backed forces on the frontlines west of Donetsk.

Today’s patriotic pageantry on Moscow’s Red Square was also accompanied by a speech led by the president, who this week began his fifth term in office.

‘Russia will do everything to prevent a global clash,’ he said after defence minister Sergei Shoigu reviewed troops lined up in a rare May blizzard.

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‘At the same time, we will not allow anyone to threaten us. Our strategic forces are always in a state of combat readiness.’

Inside Putin’s nuclear suitcase

Putin accused the West of ‘attempts to distort the truth about World War Two’, all the while holding onto one of Russia’s nuclear briefcases.

Plain-clothed aides carried the so-called ‘Cheget’ (named after Mount Cheget in the Caucasus Mountains), which is with the president at all times.

Russia's Yars intercontinental ballistic missile system units and Tigr-M all-terrain infantry mobility vehicles drive along Red Square during a military parade on Victory Day, which marks the 79th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2024. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina
Russia’s Yars intercontinental ballistic missile system units and Tigr-M all-terrain infantry mobility vehicles drive along Red Square (Picture: Reuters)

Shoigu, and the chief of the general staff, currently Valery Gerasimov, are thought to have such briefcases too.

Protection shields were also within spitting distance in the event of an attempt to assassinate the dictator.

Not much is known about the briefcase, but it is understood that it does not have a nuclear button.

Instead, it is a link between the despot and the command and control network of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces, transmitting launch orders.

Russian servicemen march during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, May 9, 2024, marking the 79th anniversary of the end of World War II. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Russian servicemen march during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow (Picture: AP)

According to a 2020 document called ‘Basic Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation on Nuclear Deterrence’, it is the Russian president who takes the decision to use nuclear weapons.

Tactical nuclear weapons drill

The Victory Day parade comes just days after the Kremlin announced plans topractice the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons after ‘threats’ from France, Britain and the US.

Both Russia and allied Belarus will take part in the military drills after the transfer of some tactical nuclear weapons across the border.



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Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu rides on an Aurus cabriolet during a military parade on Victory Day, which marks the 79th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2024. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina
Defence minister Sergei Shoigu rides on an Aurus cabriolet (Picture: Reuters)

‘There is nothing unusual here, this is planned work,’ Putin said. ‘It is training.’

Russia’s defence ministry, in its announcement on Monday, explicitly linked the nuclear exercise to ‘provocative statements and threats by certain Western officials against the Russian Federation’.

War-crimes expert Wayne Jordash, who is based in Kyiv, said: ‘The irony is clearly lost on president Putin as Russia parades on Victory Day, in celebration of the defeat of fascism in Europe, while simultaneously actively pursuing its inherently criminal plan to militarily invade and occupy Ukraine, subjugate and Russify its population and eliminate any semblance of Ukrainian identity.

‘We are now beyond 130,000 registered Russian war crimes in Ukraine, including thousands of civilians dead and injured, and thousands more arbitrarily detained, tortured and sexually abused in the course of Russia’s full-scale invasion and occupation.

‘Far from protecting Russia from fascism, Putin as dictator has turned Russia into an autocratic, militaristic, revanchist state, seemingly determined to do whatever it takes – including crimes against humanity – to lock down territory and force a population to accept an identity which they resolutely resist.’

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