Kremlin upgrades Russian bomb shelters amid fear of attack: report
The Kremlin has ordered the modernization of bomb shelters across Russia, according to a report published Monday by the Moscow Times.
The online outlet wrote that current and former Russian officials said the Kremlin had ordered inspections and repairs on shelters and bunkers amid growing fears the country could be the target of strikes during its war. with Ukraine.
In October, the Kremlin issued a decree ordering regions in western Russia to prepare for the possibility of strikes and providing instructions for facilities to ensure people’s safety during attacks. However, the Moscow Times reported that open source data shows that the bomb shelter repair process took place across Russia.
Steven Myers, a former member of the US State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy and Membership Committee on National Security, said Newsweek that he found the Moscow Times report “very credible”.
“It would be a rational and prudent action that the Russian government should take in any case,” he said. “One of Russia’s greatest vulnerabilities is the concentration of its population, particularly in the Moscow/St. Petersburg corridor.”
The Moscow Times described the condition of many Russian bomb shelters and bunkers as deteriorated Soviet-era relics that “have been mothballed for decades”.
“But as the war in Ukraine drags on, local authorities seem to be spending hundreds of millions of rubles to make them habitable again,” wrote journalist Pyotr Kozlov of the Moscow Times.
The online post detailed how authorities in regions across the country had spent heavily on upgrading shelters since the start of the war in Ukraine. These authorities are said to have taken these actions after receiving orders from Moscow.
The story also indicated that hundreds of tenders can be found on an official online portal looking for companies to repair bomb shelters across Russia.
Mark N. Katz, a professor at George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government, said Newsweek that the portal might lead to the cynical theory that “the main purpose of the upgrade might be to get money from the Russian government for the probably well-connected contractors who win the bids to undertake the shelter upgrades anti-bombs”.
However, he said Russia may have come to the idea that “Ukraine will do to them what it did to Ukraine.”
Another potential theory, Katz said, is that Moscow might be “planning something that it thinks could lead to a bombing of Russia.”
“Moscow may be doing this to bolster its narrative that Russia is under attack from Ukraine and the West – if not now, then soon,” Katz also said.
But this tactic “may actually scare off the Russian population,” Katz added.
William Reno, a professor and head of the political science department at Northwestern University, agreed that shelter upgrades may just be a way to fuel Russian President Vladimir Putin’s narrative that the conflict in Ukraine is actually “a war between Russia and the West; so we need bomb shelters.”
“There is no tactical value in using resources to improve Russia’s bomb shelters,” Reno said. Newsweek in an email, adding that “Ukraine lacks the capability” to hit targets far beyond the borders it shares with Russia.
Newsweek contacted the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.