|“||Before the nuclear cloud has settled, I will have total control of the country. And that is just the beginning, Alex. I will rebuild the Berlin Wall. There will be new wars. I will not rest until my kind of government, communist government, is the single dominant power in the world||”|
—General Alexai Sarov describes the aim of Skeleton Key
Operation Skeleton Key was a project spearheaded by General Alexei Sarov.
It attempted to reinstate communism in Russia and allow Sarov to take control. It also had the general make plans to adopt Alex Rider, for his son was killed during the war.
Sarov's scheme involved dropping a nuclear bomb in a shipyard of nuclear submarines, thus causing a massive explosion. Russia will be blamed and they will turn to their president. Sarov will then release edited footage from an interview exposing Kiriyenko as a lazy drunk idiot who says he can't deal with the issue; this will force him out of power and he will eventually be found dead due to heart failure. Sarov will reinstate communism in Russia, and will be taking over.
Alex Rider used a flashbang to temporarily incapacitate Sarov and Conrad, then escaped to Heathrow and pleaded with a security guard. The latter was incredibly skeptical and refused to believe him, but his radio was switched on, allowing his office to hear the entire conversation. Sarov and Conrad later recovered; the former brought Alex back to his plane while the latter shot the guard. The discovery of his body, along with Alex's words, caused the authorities to realise Sarov's plan.
Sarov then brought Alex to the shipyard and cuffed him to a metal pole while Conrad used a crane to position the nuke. The general left to make preparations to go to Moscow, but Alex used explosive chewing gum to break free and then killed Conrad by causing him to become stuck to the crane magnet. Meanwhile, a Russian task force, alerted by Heathrow authorities, assaulted the shipyard and Sarov had to fight his way through them. He found Alex just as the latter disarmed the nuke, and warned the boy to put the keycard back. Alex refused, and threw the card into the ocean. Sarov then raised the gun and shot himself upon hearing that Alex would not be his son.