Abandoned Soviet military bases in photos

“We, civilizations, know today that we are mortal.” These words by French poet Paul Valéry are used in the review of a book by European photographer Eric Lusito, filled with the pictures of defunct Soviet military facilities.

1. 126th Fighter Aviation Regiment, Mongolia

This picture from Lusito’s series, Traces of the Soviet Empire, shows a Soviet air base in Mongolia. Built in the 1970s, it’s located in an area that was seen as the frontline in a possible conflict with China. Relations between Moscow and Beijing were at a low point at the time.

2. 41st Rifle Division, Mongolia

That is a monument to the soldiers who fought in the Great Patriotic War (World War II). The area in front of the statues was used for military parades.

3. 677th Artillery Regiment, Mongolia

This base was located close to the northern edge of the Gobi Desert, and it was also meant to counter the potential Chinese threat.

4. 2nd Guards Tank Division, Mongolia

In the Soviet era, many military personnel and their families lived in and around Mongolia’s Choibalsan, with a population of more than 300,000. Now it’s around 39,000.

5. Headquarters of the Central Group of Forces, Czech Republic

Milovice was a major base in Czechoslovakia (today Czech Republic) and served as the headquarters for the CGF (Central Group of Forces). It is estimated that the Soviet army had as many as 100,000 people (including families) in Milovice from 1984-1988.

6. 129th Independent Radar Center of Early Detection, Latvia

The station was responsible for detecting incoming ballistic missiles from the West. The slogan on the wall reads: “Victory starts here!”

7. 44th Independent Command Complex, Kazakhstan

in the 1950s to track satellites, it became one of the most sophisticated Soviet bases for space observation, equipped with satellite control and space surveillance facilities.

8. 649th Independent Space Objects Radio Intelligence Center, Latvia

Soviet military bases abroad tended to be isolated settlements, hidden far from the public in restricted areas.

9. KGB, military unit 93544, Russia

In the words of Francis Conte, Professor of Russian & Soviet Culture at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, Lusito “helps us to understand that, in Russia as elsewhere, ruins are the expression of profound changes in time and in history.”

10. I serve the Soviet Union

11. Soviet Officers are Devoted Sons of People

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