HAVANA, Nov. 6th RUSSIA should reopen its military base in Cuba, in the backyard of the United States, two key supporters of Vladimir Putin have demanded.
Such a move would massively ramp up tensions between Washington and Moscow at a time when relations are already at their worst since the Cold War.
Many will see the coordinated call by two key parliamentary allies of President Putin as a sign that a new ultra-modern Cuban presence is intended by the Kremlin.
“Our base on Cuba, naval and aviation, should exist. It’s a key issue,” demanded Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of the Russian senate’s defence and security committee, according to Interfax news agency.
Russia should decisively react to the placing of US missile defence systems around its borders, he claimed.
Hours later the committee’s chairman Colonel-General Viktor Bondarev – until last month commander of Russian aerospace forces – echoed the call while also demanding a reopening of the former Russian military base in Vietnam.
I believe under the condition of increased tension in the world and frank intervention in the internal affairs of other countries – Russia’s historical partners – our return to Latin America is not ruled out,” he said.
“Of course, this should be coordinated with the Cubans.”
The Russian base in the Caribbean named the Lourdes SIGINT Station was installed near Havana in 1962 – the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis – and was Moscow’s largest foreign facility of its kind.
The Cuban missile crisis saw the world stand on the brink of nuclear catastrophe when US President John F Kennedy fronted up to Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
The USSR, seeking to make the most of its new Communist allies in Cuba, sent rockets to be placed on the island.
There was alarm in Washington as these nuclear rocket sites, placed well within reach of the US mainland, would be capable of launching a deadly strike on nearly any major American city.
Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of Cuba to deter the Russians from reaching the island with their deadly arsenal.
After tense negotiations, the crisis was averted when Khrushchev agreed to dismantle his weapons in Cuba in return for a commitment for the US to stay away from the island’s regime.
But the massive spy base remained in use until 2002, 11 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.