The Russian Ministry of Defence's new, three-tiered, multi-billion-rouble National Control Defence Centre was the star of the show of a press briefing in Moscow earlier this week. On 17 November, after officials confirmed that last month's Russian charter jet crash, in which 224 people were killed, was an act of terrorism, Putin went straight to the centre, where cinema sized screens showed long-range strategic bombers taking off from Russian air bases to fly missions to Syria.
The centre is designed to coordinate action by the Russian military around the world, including launches of ballistic missiles and the deployment of nuclear weapons. It is the counterpart to the US National Military Command Centre at the Pentagon, but the Russian state news agency boasts that it is bigger and better. One of its headline this week read: "Russia Defense Data Center Outperforms US Facility Threefold: Official."
Rory Challands, Al Jazeera English's Russia correspondent had a less effusive review of the giant war room, tweeting, "Putin getting a briefing on latest strikes in Syria in new defence ministry command centre that is VERY James Bond."
Russia's centre is fortified and there is speculation that it is sited on top of a series of underground tunnels. It is located on the Frunzenskaya embankment, on the left bank of the Moscow river, just over two miles from Red Square. The building was completed in 2014 as part of a decade-long modernization of the Russian army which cost hundreds of billions of dollars, according to reporting in The Washington Post.
A helicopter pad on the roof can accommodate Russia's Mi-8 transport helicopter. During a war, this would serve as the Russia's premier communications centre. Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu said the Centre represents a step toward "forming a single information space for solving tasks in the interests of the country's defense".
After attending the press briefing in the centre this week, Russian journalist Andrei Kolesnikov, a deputy editor of local newspaper New Times and a dedicated observer of Putin, said: "The Pentagon might even only dream of something like this, if only in a nightmare. But why? Who will need these screens the size of small soccer fields with grandstands for viewers?"
He went on to say that the mystery was solved earlier this week. "And here was the answer. Every spot was filled. Russia's entire high army command were the viewers. Or was it like the warming bench, and at any moment everyone was ready to go on the field…"
However, the spectacle gave Kolesnikov cause for concern. He added: "My soul, of course, was not filled with delight and trembling at the hellish power of this armada. But I was perturbed, yes, I was."