Starting in the Brezhnev period, Russia has been pursuing construction of a massive underground facility at Yamantau Mountain and the city of Mezhgorye (formerly the settlements of Beloretsk-15 and Beloretsk-16). The complex, reportedly being built by tens of thousands of workers, is said to cover an area of up to 400 square miles, the size of the Washington area inside the Beltway.
Die-hard nuclear war planners actually have their eyes on targets in Russia and China, including missile silos and leadership bunkers. For these planners, the Cold War never ended. Their top two candidates in Russia are located inside the Yamantau and Kosvinsky [more here] mountains in the central and southern Urals. Both were huge construction projects begun in the late 1970s, when U.S. nuclear firepower took special aim at the Communist Party's leadership complex. Fearing a decapitating strike, the Soviets sent tens of thousands of workers to these remote sites, where U.S. spy satellites spotted them still toiling away in the late 1990s. Yamantau is expected to be operating soon.
Secret work on massive subterranean facilities may represent the greatest misuse of Russian funds. The largest, a complex with millions of square feet inside Yamantau Mountain in the southern Urals 850 miles east of Moscow, is served by a railroad and a modern highway, and at one point, a former US Strategic Command chief estimated, housed at least 20,000 workers in newly fashioned cities. Perhaps large enough to shelter 60,000 people for months on end, the facility is reportedly outfitted with a special air filtration system designed to withstand a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack as well as a nuclear weapon command and control center. Unnamed officials have speculated that Russia could also use it for illegal weapons production and storage. (Toward the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union used secret underground bases in several Eastern European countries to conceal over 70 mobile-launched SS-23 Spider missiles in violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which required the destruction of all such weapons.)
...A separate facility at nearby Kosvinsky Mountain is believed to be a Russian version of the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center, but, unlike the 1950s-era US command post, one capable of surviving a modern thermonuclear weapon assault. Back in Moscow, more leaked intelligence reveals, among other projects, a secret subway system designed to spirit Russian officials 40 miles out of the capital in the event of a nuclear war. In total, the Russian government may have as many as 200 additional deep underground sites in varying degrees of construction or modernization, all closed to US officials.
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