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- Russia has spent the last year upgrading old Soviet-era bomb shelters, The Moscow Times reported.
- Shelters that have not been used for decades are now being made fit for use, per the report.
- Putin says Ukraine could attack Russia, and has put the country on nuclear alert.
Russia has been repairing and upgrading thousands of Soviet-era bomb shelters over the past year, ever since it invaded Ukraine, current and former officials told The Moscow Times.
The Kremlin ordered inspections and repairs of bomb shelters across the country in February 2022, the same month that Russia launched its invasion, with work still ongoing, a current Russian official told the outlet.
“A decision to inspect the network of bomb shelters was made by the government in the spring,” the official said, adding that the order came from ministries including the Emergency Situations Ministry and the Defense Ministry.
Other current and former officials confirmed the work to The Moscow Times, which also viewed government tenders for bomb shelter upgrades.
The upgrades come as Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned of retaliation if anywhere in Russia is targeted, and after he put his own country’s nuclear forces on high alert.
Work on the shelters has been happening quietly, without any public announcements. Authorities appear to be spending hundreds of millions of rubles – the equivalent of millions of dollars — The Moscow Times reported.
Thousands of shelters which have not been used for decades are being made fit for use.
The outlet also pointed to other media reports that showed authorities spending large sums on shelters across the country.
Some cities don’t have enough shelter space for their populations, it added, pointing to a report that said officials in the northern city of Petrozavodsk warned in January that public shelters there could only take one-eighth of the city’s residents.
Russia on alert
While Ukraine has repeatedly pledged not to strike Russian territory, saying it only wants to protect its own soil, Putin has warned that Russia could be targeted, and that it would retaliate if it does.
Ukraine’s allies, which are supplying the country with increasingly sophisticated weapons, have also sought assurances from Ukraine that it would not use those weapons to strike Russian territory.
Meanwhile, Putin has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons if provoked, sparking outcry and condemnation from the US.
Putin may preparing for such an eventuality, and any repercussions, or at least trying to reassure his officials and civilians that Russia is prepared.
Putin has described his invasion of Ukraine as being necessary to stop the West attacking Russia.