The town that houses Russia's Arctic marines is low on heating and hot water

By - March 13, 2024 The Independent Barents Observer

The warriors are presented as heroes and praised by the authorities. Unprecedented sums are invested in armament and war. But Putin’s Russia still does not manage to provide a satisfactory standard of living in its military towns and bases. Not even for its elite forces.

In Sputnik, the home base for Russia’s 61st Naval Infantry Brigade, locals continue to complain about an insufficient level of the most basic services.

Recently, a local woman complained to the regional governor about the situation.

Locals from Sputnik complain to the governor. Screenshot from VK page of Andrei Chibis

“In the houses there are mice and mosquitoes and mould on the walls. There is no pressure in the warm and cold water supply and some are forced to wash clothes by hand […] Sewage is coming into the apartments and there is heating in only two houses, while the remaining are without,” she writes in a comment on Governor Andrei Chibis’ VK social media page.

The woman is supported by several more locals from the military base.

“With this kind of water, it is not clear if you clean or dirty yourself,” another woman writes. On her VK page is a video of brownish tap water running into the kitchen sink.

“Thank you to the utility company! Thank you to everyone that contribute to our “comfortable stay” in apartments of military servicemen!” she adds.

Both women are wives of soldiers. The latter lost her husband in May 2022. He served in an engineering unit under the local brigade and was awarded with several significant military orders.

According to a third commenter, what is needed in Sputnik is a “full-scale repair of all systems of life sustenance.”


The military base of Sputnik has sent hundreds of warriors to Ukraine. Many of them are killed. Photo: screenshot of video


The home base of the 61st Naval Infantry Brigade is far from  the only military settlement and town in the Kola Peninsula in need of comprehensive renovation.

In 2022, Vladimir Putin himself demanded speedy improvement of the situation.

“I request the Government and the Minister of Defense to take control of this issue, to provide a comprehensive modernization of infrastructure, energy, residential and social infrastructure in the ZATOs [closed military towns] of the Murmansk region – the main base area of the Northern Fleet,” Putin said in a meeting on Arctic development.

The order came after a report presented to the federal Arctic Commission that same year described the level of dilapidation of local housing, energy systems and social infrastructure in the closed military towns to the equivalent of 45-100 percent. The same applied for local roads, the report read.

In the Kola Peninsula, there are 23 towns and settlements with military bases, and they house more than 152 thousand people, or about 20 percent of the region’s population.

Putin set 2024 as deadline for the upgrades in the closed military towns to be completed.

However, despite the assurances from the Kremlin strongman, little has improved.

The standard of living in Sputnik and other military towns remain on a low level. And even the repairs completed are of low standards.

According to one of the women from Sputnik, the roof top of her house continues to leak water although it was recently repaired.