Russian army bases in Cuba may still become a reality. Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, the president of the Academy of Geopolitical Sciences, stated Monday that the retrieval of the Russian military presence in Cuba may become a real response to the ongoing increase of the US military and political pressure on Russia.
“It is an open secret that the West has been establishing a buffer zone around Russia during the recent years, getting European, Baltic states, Ukraine and the Caucasus involved in the process. The expansion of the Russian military presence abroad, particularly in Cuba, could become a response to US-led activities,” RIA Novosti quoted Ivashov as saying.
Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary of the Russian Federation Security Council, made a work visit to Cuba on July 30-31 and held meetings with Cuban ministers for defense and internal affairs.
Leonid Ivashov said that Patrushev’s visit to “the island of freedom” was made to discuss the forms of Russia’s possible military presence on the island.
“There are convenient bays for reconnaissance and battleships and a network of so-called forward staging posts in Cuba. We can resume the operation of the radar centre in Lourdes upon the agreement of the Cuban administration. A shipment of new radar equipment will be necessary for it, though,” Ivashov said.
The official also emphasized the importance for the Russian administration to modernise a technical support centre for vessels of the Russian Navy in Syria’s Tartus port. To crown it all, Ivashov did not rule out a possibility to resume talks with Vietnam regarding a possibility for Russia to deploy its battleships in Cam Ran port.
Leonid Ivashov chaired the department for international defense cooperation of Russia’s Defense Ministry in 1996-2001.
Former commander of Russia’s Black Sea Navy, Eduard Baltin, also said that there are convenient bases in Cuba, where Russian ships could be based. “It is technically possible, although there is no strategic need in it today,” the admiral said.
The Russian radio intercept centre was operating in Cuba until 2002. The centre was officially called the Russian Electronic Centre in Lourdes. The centre allowed to intercept the data transmitted from US communication satellites, ground-based telecommunication cables and even messages from NASA’s centre in Florida. The base was closed in October 2001. The annual rent for the use of the base in Lourdes reportedly made up US$200 million.
Russia’s largest overseas navy base was liquidated in 2002. The agreement signed between Russia and Vietnam in 1981 stipulated the use of two berths for Russian battleships and submarines, about 30 warehouses and a runway for all kinds of planes.
Cam Ran used to play the key role in the plans of the Russian Navy, because it was the only base that was capable of providing the presence of Russian vessels in the Indian Ocean and in the Persian Gulf area. The annual rent made up US$300 million.
The technical support centre for the Russian Navy in Syria’s Tartus still operates free of charge.