MOSCOW (Reuters) – Rare footage emerged on Wednesday of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing accompanied by officers carrying a so-called nuclear briefcase that can be used to order a nuclear strike.
After meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Putin was photographed walking to another meeting surrounded by security and followed by two uniformed Russian naval officers, each carrying a briefcase. The camera zooms in on one of the bags.
A naval officer usually carries the Russian nuclear briefcase. Known as the “Chiget” (named after Mount Chegit in the Caucasus Mountains), this bag is with the president at all times but is rarely photographed.
“There are certain bags without which Putin’s trip is not complete,” RIA correspondents in the Kremlin said in a post on the Telegram app below the footage.
In another clip, Putin is shown leaving a meeting in Beijing with naval officers, and is again filmed a few steps away from a smiling Putin as he descends some stairs.
The US President also has such a device called the “Nuclear Football”. The briefcase holds the codes the president would use to verify an order to launch nuclear missiles if he were not in the White House.
The Ukraine war has raised tensions between Moscow and Washington to the highest level since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, as China seeks to bolster its nuclear arsenal to match its status as an emerging superpower.
The Russian Parliament took the first step on Tuesday towards canceling the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and its top representative warned the United States that Moscow might abandon the treaty completely.
Essentially, the briefcase is a secure communication tool that connects the president to his senior military officers and then to the missile forces via the top-secret Kazbek electronic command and control network. Kazbek supports another regime known as the “Caucasus”.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also has a nuclear portfolio. The Chief of the General Staff, currently Valery Gerasimov, may have one as well.
The footage he showed Russian TV channel Zvezda In 2019, she showed off what she said was one of those bags that contained a bunch of buttons.
In the section called “Command” there are two buttons: a white “Run” button and a red “Cancel” button. The bag is activated using a special educational card, according to the Zvezda website.
One of the nuclear briefcases used by former Russian President Boris Yeltsin is on display at the Yeltsin Museum in Yekaterinburg.
Putin is visiting Beijing on his second known trip outside the former Soviet Union since the start of the Ukraine war in February 2022.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge) Editing by Nick Macfie
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