Between Mongolian fields of green, the Russians built apartment blocks for servicemen in the middle of nowhere, erected statues of Soviet heroes and paved airstrips aimed not at the west or the east, but to the south, towards China.
The Soviet Union had reached its peak. March 14, 1979, reads the Russian broadsheet now peeling from the walls of the abandoned airforce base in Bayantal. Pravda reported that long-range television broadcasting capabilities had successfully been installed on a satellite orbiting 40,000 kilometres above the Earth. In Moscow, preparations were underway for the 109th anniversary of the birth of revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.