Petrov Day, September 26, celebrates the anniversary of the day in 1983 when Russian lieutenant Stanislav Petrov [W] knowingly violated procedure and certified what appeared to be an impending nuclear attack from the United States as a false alarm, thus preventing the retaliatory strike which would otherwise have been launched and which would probably have started the long-feared World War III.
Because of military secrecy and international policy, Petrov's actions were kept secret until 1998.
The false alarm turned out to be due to one or more software bugs in the attack warning system which falsely identified an unusual cloud formation as incoming missiles.
Wikipedia: no equivalent article as of 2012-11-03
- 2016-09-27 The Day We Avoided Total Destruction
- 2012-10-04 My Two Heroes: Arkhipov and Petrov by Rick Falkvinge
- 2007-09-26 9/26 is Petrov Day: article which inspired this page. (Are there earlier references to "Petrov Day"?)
- 2004-05-21 The Man Who Saved the World Finally Recognized
- 1999-02-10 'I Had A Funny Feeling in My Gut'
That makes at least two incidents (Petrov and Yeltsin; Arkhipov's motives are unclear) in which the world was saved from nuclear war because a Russian military official was unwilling to believe the US would launch a first strike.
This, more than anything else, completely destroys any arguments asserting that American belligerence towards the Soviets (typically exemplified by Ronald Reagan, and demonizing John F. Kennedy for being too conciliatory) helped prevent war. If anything, that belligerence brought us closer to war, and we were just lucky that the line never quite got crossed.
There's more information about Arkhipov here.