As you probably know, there were many secret military projects in the Soviet Union. Soviets invested a lot of money in new military projects and bases during the Cold War. After the USSR collapsed in the early 1990s, some of these secret bases were left abandoned.
Here, I have a list of five secret Soviet military bases/projects, which are abandoned but still exist out there at the moment.
- “Barhan” bioweapons base
“Barhan” bioweapons base is also known as Aralsk-7 or town Kantubek. It was the Soviet’s remarkable top-secret laboratory to test biological weapons. It is located on the Vozrozhdeniya island in the middle of the Aral Sea. This location is very remote on the border of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
The Barhan laboratory was opened in 1948 and officially closed in November 1991. Since then, this secret bioweapons base was abandoned and Kantubek settlement turned into a ghost town.
- “Dvina R-12” nuclear missile base
“Dvina R-12” nuclear missile base was located nearby Riga, the capital of Latvia which was part of the Soviet Union at the time.
This base was built in 1964 during Cold War and it consisted of four missile silos for R-12 medium-range ballistic nuclear missiles (known as SS-4 Sandal in the West). It was targeting cities in Western Europe and Scandinavia in the event of a nuclear war.
The silos were about 28 meters or 92 feet deep and it was like a massive 10-story underground building made of a strong mix of concrete with bunkers, tunnels and a command center.
“Dvina R-12” complex was officially closed and abandoned since 1982. Recently in 2017, the nuclear missile base was completely demolished and is no longer exists.
- Cold War bunker in Aksay
The nuclear bunker in Aksay is located in southern Russia nearby Rostov-on-Don. It was built at the end of the ’50s when the Soviet Union was in preparation for the nuclear war with the United States.
It wasn’t just a bunker – this place was like an underground town with tunnels which was designed to fit about 1500 people in case of a nuclear attack. It’s been abandoned since 1993. Part of the Aksay’s bunker later opened as a museum and it is currently available for public visit.
- The Duga missile defense radar system
The Duga Soviet missile defense radar system is also known as the “Russian Woodpecker” and “Steel Work”. Soviets had two operational Duga radars out there – the first one was located 12 miles south of Prypyat near Chernobyl (Ukraine in the present day) and another one Duga-2 near Komsomolsk-on-Amur in the Russian Far East.
The Duga in Chernobyl was in operation since 1976 until it was shut down soon after an accident at the Chernobyl power plant in 1986. An over-the-horizon radar was meant to provide an early warning of a ballistic missile launch which would buy Soviets time to defend and plan a response.
Chernobyl’s radar-receiver still stands tall and, even better, it’s open for visitors. It is a very impressive construction about a half a mile long and 146 meters tall. You do need a permit to visit this site and it can be done if you contact one of the local companies that offer tours of Prypyat and Chernobyl.
- “Object 221” – an underground Black Sea fleet headquarters
This secret Soviet underground naval base was located in the Crimea region near Balaclava and Sevastopol. It is known as the “Object 221”, “Alsu-2”, and “Nora”. The construction of the base started in 1977 but it was never finished and was abandoned in 1992 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Object 221 is literally built beneath a mountain and it extends underground for 4 levels. It was supposed to be the Black Sea fleet headquarters as well as a shelter for the Soviet government officials that often spent their summer vacations in Crimea. This underground facility was also designed to accommodate larger military vehicles including tanks.
On the outside, Object 221 looks like a concrete bunker with entry points that lead into a maze of tunnels and chambers. There are currently no restrictions on visiting this abandoned site as of 2019.