Vladimir Putin sent a new threatening message to the West by making a public show of his nuclear briefcases in China.
Two naval officers carrying the codes for Putin to attack the West scurried close to the Russian dictator as he exited the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
It followed talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and he was also filmed walking to another meeting with the officers in close attendance.
The footage comes as Putin has suffered major setbacks in the war in Ukraine due to new long range ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) missiles supplied by the US.
The ballistic missiles are 13 feet high and 24 inches in diameter, and the longest range variants can fly up to 190 miles.
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Some will see him showing off the briefcases – used to launch his hypersonic nuclear arsenal – as a sign of his paranoia. Unusually Russian state media boasted about Putin’s nuclear codes which are always with him on any tour.
“There are certain suitcases without which no trip of Putin’s is complete,” said state news agency RIA in a Telegram post.
The US equivalent is known as the president’s “nuclear football”.
The Russian naval officer carrying the key case is known as the “Cheget” – named after Mount Cheget in the Caucasus range.
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Putin is on a rare foreign visit to China, only his second foreign trip outside the former USSR since he triggered war with Ukraine in February 2022.
For Putin to launch a nuclear strike on the West, it is believed he and two others would have to give the order in quick succession.
The other two are defence minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the Armed Forces, General Valery Gerasimov.
Footage shown by Russia’s Zvezda television channel in 2019 showed what it said was one of the briefcases with an array of buttons.
In a section called “command” there are two buttons: a white “launch” button and a red “cancel” button.
The briefcase is activated by a special flashcard, according to Zvezda.
ATACMS missiles were used to cause major damage to two Russian-occupied airfields in Berdiansk and Luhansk.
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