Moscow bomb shelters tests a myth or reality?

The Russian government has proudly announced that it has bomb shelters for all Muscovites in the event of a nuclear strike, but officials involved with maintaining these facilities say that at best they would save only 50,000 to 100,000 of the 12 million residents of the capital and none at all if a nuclear strike hit the city.

In today’s edition of “Novaya gazeta,” Anna Bessarobova spoke with some of these officials who told her that the bomb shelters that do exist are mostly derelict structures or have been rented out to one of another company, most often automobile firms or fitness centers

Mikhail Savkin, head of the Center for Subterranean Research, told the journalist that the situation is so bad that in some places local residents have been asked to make contributions of 500 rubles (eight US dollars) each to try to bring the facilities up to standard.  But in many places, there is no possibility that officials will be able to do that.

Most of the bomb shelters are so old, so small and so out of date that they would provide little protection in the event of a conventional attack and none at all in the case of a nuclear one despite the official existence of a large number of such facilities and the role of the FSB in overseeing them.

“The main bunker of Moscow is the metro,” Savkin says. “A megalopolis under a megalopolis. An enormous territory. Only know this: in the case of a nuclear strike, this sill save no one. And during a non-nuclear bombardment it will be able to help only for a maximum of two to three days.” To hope for more without major investment is absurd.


Paul Goble – political scientist and diplomat. He is an analyst, writer and columnist with expertise on Russia.


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