Col. Stanislav Lunev. NewsMax.com.
Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2000
Last week Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Cuba, where he said on
Dec. 15 that Moscow would like to use the Communist regime in Havana as a
stepping-stone to a wider and more active role in Latin America and the
With his Cuban counterpart, Fidel Castro, Putin agreed to breathe new life
into Russia’s relationship with Havana, once the Soviet Union’s
closest friend and ally. During this visit Russian and Cuban officials discussed
many questions about improving the ties between the two countries, especially in
the political, military and economic areas.
Before leaving Havana, Putin said that Cuba and Russia had made no
agreements aimed against "third countries," but actually his visit to "Freedom
Island" was another new challenge to Washington.
After several meetings with Castro, Putin joined the Cuban dictator in
condemning the U.S. trade embargo against the communist-ruled Caribbean island.
Putin and Castro signed a joint declaration at Havana’s Revolution Palace
that also called for a multipolar world to counter U.S. influence and lamented
the perils of economic globalization for poor nations.
As the document said, Moscow and Havana "have repeated their
condemnation of the continued trade, economic and financial blockade of Cuba by
the U.S., as well as any other extraterritorial acts linked to the blockade."
In a reference to NATO’s military involvement in the Kosovo conflict
last year, which Russia and Cuba together disapproved of, the two leaders also
underlined the "fruitlessness" of the "humanitarian intervention."
As the Russian press reported, during this visit Russian and Cuban officials
signed dozens of documents for future cooperation in economic and military
areas. In Putin’s words, an immediate task for Russian and Cuban experts
would be a decision on the fate of thousands of unfinished projects left over
from the Soviet era, all of which need an injection of cash to get them working
"Our mutual trade has reached $930 million in recent years, which is
not bad for both Russia and Cuba," Putin said.
These projects include a nickel ore processing factory at Las Camariocas and
modernization of the Cienfuegos and Santiago oil refineries. Russia also
recently had to invest around $30 million in preservation work at the Juragua
nuclear plant, which could be a permanent radioactive danger to many American
Nuclear experts believe that from the drawing board to the final
construction the Juragua reactors are a case study in how NOT to build a nuclear
power plant. But Moscow, whose leaders some years ago swore never to build the
same reactors in their own country, is still insisting on restoring the Juragua
construction, essentially to have some kind of a bargaining chip in the form of
a perceived permanent safety hazard near the Florida Straits that can be traded
away for new U.S. credits, loans and other benefits.
At the same time, Russian and Cuban officials apparently failed to resolve
the bilateral problem of Havana’s debt to the former Soviet Union,
inherited by Russia, which has been previously estimated by Moscow at $20
In Putin’s words, "There are still some problems remaining, which
have accumulated in the last 10 years, and they demand especially close
attention and solution."
Russian and Cuban officials had secret discussions about military
cooperation between the two countries. According to the Russian press, Moscow
will continue supplying arms to Havana, mostly in exchange for an extension of
the lease for Russia’s giant electronic spy station in Lourdes, and other
military and intelligence facilities.
On Dec. 14, Putin and Fidel Castro visited the Russian Military
Intelligence-operated Lourdes spy center outside the Cuban capital and laid a
wreath at the monument to the "Soviet Internationalist Warriors." As
Putin put it, Russia and Cuba are to keep the Lourdes station going.
"It functions in strict accordance with the international norms and
rules currently in force," Putin said. "Russia and Cuba are in favor
of continuing its existence, but what will happen later? Let’s wait and
It is very difficult to agree with these words because the GRU (Russian
Military Intelligence Agency) Lourdes spy center is operating from Cuban
territory in violation of international regulations.
As NewsMax.com reported, the Lourdes center is not only spying on American
nuclear missile submarines in the Atlantic Ocean, but also illegally registering
and penetrating U.S. governmental, military, economic and commercial
communications in the eastern half of the U.S. In the words of top-level Russian
military officials, the Lourdes center is "a diamond in the system of
Russian National Security."
There is no doubt that Putin’s visit to Cuba is a logical continuation
of his foreign policy, which is aimed at the establishment or restoration of
good and friendly relations with regimes and countries harboring anti-American
sentiments. Before visiting Cuba, for example, Putin became the first Russian or
Soviet leader to visit North Korea, has hosted Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq
Aziz, and has pledged to visit Libya.
According to the Russian ambassador in Cuba, Moscow still regards Havana as "one
of its most important allies."
In this connection, Putin’s visit to the "Freedom Island"
could be interpreted, at the very minimum, as part of Moscow’s bid to
rebuild a global role for itself, particularly in the Third World and especially
in Latin America.
The Clinton administration continues to promote Putin as America’s
friend when this "friend" is doing everything to challenge the U.S.
and its security interests.
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