SIMFEROPOL, Crimea – The missile bunkers that dot the verdant hills along Crimea’s southern coast are known locally as Object 100. Until recently, tourists paid $50 to visit the crumbling and abandoned former Soviet sites, which served during the Cold War as a defence against naval attack from the Black Sea.
Now the bunkers are coming back online. After Russia took control of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, signs went up in the woods around the sites warning visitors against entering a “forbidden zone of the Russian Ministry of Defence.” A resident of a nearby village who said he was employed at the base last year said Russian soldiers had re-occupied the sites and blocked roads leading into the area. He was unable to say when the Russian soldiers arrived.
“It is a functioning military base with an anti-ship missile system,” the villager told a Reuters reporter who visited the area in July.
The bunkers are just one small part of a new Russian programme to militarise the Crimean peninsula. Based on recent site observations by Reuters, accounts from locals, media reports and official Russian data, Moscow has reanimated multiple Soviet-built facilities in the region, built new bases and stationed soldiers there.