MOSCOW -- The Kremlin on Wednesday (December 9) sounded the alarm over the theft of sensitive equipment from a "doomsday plane" designed to shield top command from the effects of a nuclear explosion, in the latest mishap to hit the Russian military.
Police in Taganrog have learned that 1 million RUB ($13,600) worth of equipment was stolen from an Ilyushin Il-80 plane at an airfield, the Interior Ministry (MVD) said.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, described the breach as an "emergency" and vowed that "measures will be taken to prevent this from happening in the future".
The MVD did not specify what was stolen but said that investigators had been dispatched to the scene.
Taganrog is home to Beriev Aircraft Co., a struggling state-controlled enterprise.
The culprits stole radio equipment an Il-80 plane that was undergoing maintenance at Taganrog, the Kremlin-friendly REN-TV television channel reported earlier this week.
Thieves opened the aircraft's cargo hatch and shoe and fingerprints were found inside the plane, the channel said, adding that Beriev reported the theft to police last week.
The robbed plane is one of four highly classified flying command centres built to evacuate the president and other top officials in case of a nuclear explosion.
Almost windowless, the first such Russian plane is believed to have flown in 1985.
History of mishaps
The incident is just the latest embarrassment or mishap suffered by the Russian military.
Just last month, analysis showed that Russian military equipment used by Armenia during the six-week Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan -- the same equipment that let down pro-Russian Libyan militants and Syrian government forces this year -- was thoroughly outperformed by Turkish equipment.
The drubbing of Russian hardware on multiple fronts all year has made the Kremlin's past boasts of "unprecedented" and "invincible" weaponry sound even hollower than usual.
Last December, Russia's only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, caught fire in Murmansk while more than 400 people were on board. The blaze spread over an area of about 600 sq. metres.
In August 2019, an explosion ripped through the Russian military's main nuclear-research site in Arkhangelsk Province while personnel were attempting to develop new weapons.
The nearby city of Severodvinsk recorded elevated radiation levels following the accident, and panicked residents rushed to buy iodine, which can help prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing radiation.
Earlier that month, the town of Achinsk in Krasnoyarsk Province suffered explosions on multiple days at an ammunition depot.
The first explosion August 5, 2019, killed one person. Multiple explosions August 9, 2019, during a mine clearance operation at the same site injured at least nine people.
In July 2019, 14 Russian sailors died from inhaling toxic fumes from a fire on a deep submersible, a tragedy that echoed the sinking of the Kursk submarine in 2000, which claimed the lives of 118 personnel and shook the first year of Putin's presidency.
In 2011, one of Russia's biggest nuclear submarines, the Yekaterinburg, caught fire while undergoing repairs in dock in the northern Murmansk region.
It was later reported the submarine was armed with long-range nuclear missiles when it caught fire.
In another accident in 2008, 20 Russians -- three naval officers and 17 civilians -- were killed by poison gas after a vessel's fire-extinguishing system was accidentally activated during trials in the Sea of Japan.