'Post-apocalyptic': Experience abandoned Soviet-era Arctic military base

An abandoned Kotelny Island was Russia's Northern Fleet destination after traveling some 2,500 miles through treacherous Arctic waters. The military are now firmly established at the base in one of the world’s most hostile natural environments.

"A barren wasteland, the sort you'd expect to see in a post-apocalyptic movie," is how RT's Murad Gazdiev, who's been traveling with the fleet, describes the place.

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READ: Murad Gazdiev's Arctic blog

The sheer remoteness of the island has turned what used to be a military base in the 20th century into a barren wasteland, with tens of thousands of rusty barrels strewn everywhere across this piece of land, surrounded by ice-cold waters.

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The facility is now being rebuilt and will be the first of many from which Russia will patrol the Arctic region. The barrel stacks, which originally all carried fuel – vital to survive the merciless cold – is a problem inherited from the Soviet Union.

With the fall of the USSR, all troops were withdrawn from Kotelny Island. After decades of desolation, the authorities are now brainstorming over how to deal with the mess, left behind decades ago.

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"The island, of course, has to be cleared of useless junk. Somehow the barrels must be utilized, which will require additional sources and funds," Rear Admiral Oleg Golubev told RT.

Troops currently located at the base have come up with their own ideas of how to use the "useless." Bracing themselves for the region's brutal upcoming winter, when the island could be unreachable for months, the servicemen have turned some of the barrel stacks into much-needed windbreaks. Smartly cut, others can also be transformed into water boilers.

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At the new base, troops will be guarding the northern frontiers of the country, cut off from civilization for a year.

As Moscow is aiming to beef up its military presence in the region by the end of this year, an RT crew has joined the Northern Fleet’s Arctic voyage, which delivered troops and military hardware to Kotelny Island.

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