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Forests being cut down in Moscow to deploy air defence systems – The Insider

Monday, 13 March 2023, 14:35
Forests being cut down in Moscow to deploy air defence systems – The Insider

Moscow authorities have begun cutting down forests to deploy air defence systems in the Russian capital.

Source: The Insider's investigation

Details: As the news agency states, active deforestation started after the New Year in several districts of Moscow.


S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems have been deployed in Losiny Ostrov National Park and on the research grounds of the Timiryazev Agricultural Academy.

About 100 hectares of forest were cut down in the protected zone of the Kolomenskoye Museum-Reserve in the Pechatniki district of the city for the needs of the Russian military.

Photo by The Insider

Four S-400 air defence systems are deployed in the Timiryazevsky District in Moscow's north; all launchers are operational. A 92N6E multifunctional radar is also deployed at the site, detecting and tracking air targets.


The news outlet reported that the site for the air defence system on the research grounds began to be arranged on 31 December. There was no continuous forest, so the soil was levelled and covered with asphalt.

Screenshot from The Insider's video

There was no information regarding the activities on any of the state portals, and residents of the area who wondered what was happening received no response to their inquiries. Two fences now surround the air defence site.

Photo by The Insider

The Insider noted that the distance from the experimental fields to the nearest residential multi-storey buildings is roughly 200 metres.

Another site for the air defence system was the territory of the Losiny Ostrov National Park in the Bogorodskoye district in Moscow's northeast. The distance from the air defence system to residential high-rise buildings is roughly 200 metres as well.

Photo by The Insider

Four of the nine S-400 launchers are reported to have been moved to a vertical firing position. The radar stations are also in their operational positions.

The deployment of the S-400s caused an outrage among environmentalists and local residents, as this site belongs to a specially protected natural area.

Photo by The Insider

However, in response to one of the requests regarding deforestation, the activists were told that "the work specified in the appeal is carried out to ensure national security and defence of the Russian Federation."

As the publication reports, the greatest environmental damage was caused by construction in the Kuryanovo Microdistrict (part of the Pechatniki district) in Moscow's southeast. A vast 100-hectare forest on the left bank of the Moscow River, right across from the Kolomenskoye estate, was destroyed in the strictest secrecy for the needs of the military.

The forest began to be actively destroyed on 25 January. The builders were given a month to put asphalt under the SAM [surface-to-air missile] sites.

Photo by The Insider

According to one of the employees, there will be 10 sites covering 55 hectares. At least one of those will be used for air defence.

Russian Highways state company stresses that all of this is "temporary," saying that "after the end of the special military operation [as the Russian propaganda calls the war against Ukraine – ed.], everything will be cleaned up and the forest will be planted back."

The Insider reports that Moscow residents fear that this monument may lose its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site after such radical changes to the landscape.

Another site, presumably for deploying an air defence system, appeared in the Izmailovsky forest park. The forest at the entrance to the park, 500 metres from the Izmailovskaya metro station, began to be cut down in early January. About a hundred workers were involved, and police and the Russian National Guard patrolled the site. The felling site was paved in a short term.

Photo by The Insider

The publication notes that at the time of writing, the military equipment has not yet arrived.

Air defence was deployed at the largest [as of 2013 – ed.] landfill in Europe, the Salaryevo landfill in New Moscow. A P-18-2 Prima mobile reconnaissance and targeting radar is deployed there.

The Prima is reportedly used in conjunction with short- or medium-range SAMs, such as Buk or Tor.

The Insider also emphasises that, apart from the S-400s in Moscow's residential areas, several Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile systems have been deployed in the city centre.

These are medium-range systems that can be used to protect "small-sized military, including mobile, and administrative and industrial facilities and areas from aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, and precision weapons."

One Pantsir appeared on the building of the Ministry of Defence on Frunzenskaya Embankment. It was first spotted on 25 December, and on 19 January. Several Telegram channels posted photos of the system.

Also in January, Moscow residents saw a SAM similar to the Pantsir-S1 being lifted onto the roof of a building at 8 Teterinsky Lane near the Taganskaya metro station.

Two more systems were spotted at 38A Petrovka Street near the Moscow Interior Ministry and on the printing house near the 1905 metro station. A day before the Glory to the Defenders of the Fatherland rally concert in Luzhniki, Pantsir-S1 was spotted on Vorobyovy Gory [Sparrow Hills].

The Russian Ministry of Defence has not yet commented on the deployment of SAMs in the city. Experts say that the deployment of these military vehicles within the city, especially in the city centre, in a country where martial law has not been declared, is a violation of safety, as uncontrolled launches and other emergencies are possible.

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