Trigger-happy Russian President Vladimir Putin stoked concerns Friday when he reportedly took his “nuclear football” to a funeral at a Moscow cathedral.
The strongman showed up at the Christ the Savior Cathedral to pay his respects to firebrand ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who is said have died of COVID-19.
Putin walked in clutching red roses, but what caught the attention of viewers was the apparent “secret nuclear briefcase” in the hands of a man wearing a suit and walking directly behind the Russian leader, the Sun reported.
Much like the so-called “football” carried by presidential military aides in the US, the Russian case is believed to contain launch data for the Kremlin’s strategic missiles.
An image published by the Sun shows an open briefcase, which was revealed to the public for the first time in 2019 by Zvezda, a TV channel run by Russia’s Ministry of Defense,
Local media say there are actually three such briefcases, each accessible by the most high-ranking officials in the Russian Federation, according to the report.
The sighting on Friday comes weeks after Putin placed his country’s nuclear weapons on high alert following the start of the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.