The Military on Kamchatka

A recently-declassified spy satellite photograph of Kamchatka.
A recently-declassified spy satellite photograph of Kamchatka. Avacha Bay, located at the center-right of the photograph, is home to the city of Petropavlovsk (to the north) and Rybachi submarine base (to the south).

You cannot understand Kamchatka- its history, its people, its sense of self- without an understanding of the immense military presence on the Peninsula. Because of its location on the far eastern frontier of Russia and the former Soviet Union, Kamchatka has always had immense strategic importance. For this reason, the Peninsula was a "closed region" for many decades. Until the early 1990s, foreigners, and even most Russians, were prohibited from visiting Kamchatka. Even today, a decade after the cold war's end, Russia continues to maintain a heavy military presence on the Peninsula, and many areas of Kamchatka remain off-limits.

Kamchatka is the home base of the Pacific submarine fleet.

Kamchatka is also the site of several air force bases, as well as the early-warning radars that would detect an American attack on the Motherland. Because of this, the American military devoted enormous resources to probing Kamchatka's air defense system.

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