ATV enthusiast and Instagram user Oleg Tsurkan got more than he bargained for on a recent ride through a remote Russian wood.
In an area usually too swampy to pass through, Tsurkan was happy that a dryer than usual winter meant the muddy ground was hard enough to ride his off-road ATV over.
Passing into previously unexplored areas, Tsurkan was excited to see signs of human activity in the form of a rusted barbed wire fence. Daring to go beyond, Tsurkan was rewarded with a very unexpected sight: a group of mysterious rusted-out 8-wheeler trucks.
Vehicles origins unknown
Unsure what it could be, the intrepid explorer began documenting his find which we are lucky enough to share in the gallery below.
The abandoned vehicles have some unusual features, but initially nothing that could point to their exact purpose, nor why they had been abandoned in the forest.
The large pieces of machinery were clearly old and had been partly torn down before their abandonment.
Valuable parts of the engine were missing, but there was enough evidence to give some indication of some of the engines ages. Though unfortunately this information was not shared with us.
Unusual design features
One fascinating design feature of one of the large trucks was the discovery that the doors of the trucks are made from fiberglass, an unusual feature on this kind of vehicle, but no doubt a clever touch to try and reduce the trucks overall weight.
The next intriguing discovery was of a launch lever inside the vehicle's cab. Here is where the mystery starts to clear.
This was a Soviet Army vehicle used to transport ballistic missiles. Hence why the launch button gets center stage.
Missile support vehicle left to rot
However, further research from the comfort of Tsurkan living room proved this wasn't actually the launch vehicle for the missiles, but rather a necessary support vehicle.
The trailer of the truck acts as a portable home for troops with spaces for cooking, resting, and strategy. While secure from potential threats, the long low profile trailer has windows to allow some light in.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many army bases and equipment were abandoned in the chaos of trying to reestablish the Army of the Soviet Union into defense forces for the various Post-Soviet newly independent nations.
A quick google search reveals many incredible photo caches of similar abandoned pieces of infrastructure and equipment all over Russian and the former Soviet Union territories.
While many have been stripped of their valuable parts, others remain in close to recognizable condition giving an insight into the power of force the former USSR had.