Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Everything We Know About The Huge Spy Base In Cuba That Russia Is Reopening

Everything We Know About The Huge Spy Base In Cuba That Russia Is Reopening
JUL. 21, 2014, 6:00 PM 6,857 24

Moscow and Havana have agreed to reopen a Cold War-era signals
intelligence (SIGINT) base in Lourdes, Cuba.
An agreement was reached during Putin's visit to Cuba last week to
reopen the base, Russia business daily Kommersant reported last week.
That was confirmed by a Russian security source who told Reuters: "A
framework agreement has been agreed."

The base was set up in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis had brought
the U.S. and Soviet Union close to confrontation over Moscow's proposal
to place nuclear weapons on Cuban soil.

Havana shut it down in 2001 because of financial issues and American

Located south of Cuba's capital Havana and just 150 miles from the U.S.
coast, the base left many parts of the U.S. vulnerable to Soviet
communication intercepts, including exchanges between Florida space
centers and U.S. spacecraft.

Here's what a Congressional report from 2000 said about the facility:

• The Secretary of Defense formally expressed concerns to Congress
regarding the espionage complex at Lourdes, Cuba, and its use as a base
for intelligence directed against the United States.

• The Secretary of Defense, referring to a 1998 Defense Intelligence
Agency assessment, reported that the Russian Federation leased the
Lourdes facility for an estimated $100 million to $300 million a year.

• It has been reported that the Lourdes facility was the largest such
complex operated by the Russian Federation and its intelligence service
outside the region of the former Soviet Union.

• The Lourdes facility was reported to cover a 28 square-mile area with
over 1,500 Russian engineers, technicians, and military personnel
working at the base.

• Experts familiar with the Lourdes facility have reportedly confirmed
that the base had multiple groups of tracking dishes and its own
satellite system, with some groups used to intercept telephone calls,
faxes, and computer communications, in general, and with other groups
used to cover targeted telephones and devices.

• News sources have reported that the Lourdes facility obtained
sensitive information about United States military operations during
Operation Desert Storm.

• Academic studies cite official U.S. sources affirming that the Lourdes
facility was used to collect personal information about United States
citizens in the private and government sectors, and offered the means to
engage in cyberwarfare against the U.S.

• The operational significance of the Lourdes facility reportedly grew
dramatically after Russian President Boris Yeltsin issued a 1996 order
demanding the Russian intelligence community increase its gathering of
U.S. and other Western economic and trade secrets.

• It has been reported that the Government of the Russian Federation is
estimated to have spent in excess of $3 billion in the operation and
modernization of the Lourdes facility.

• Former U.S. Government officials were quoted confirming reports about
the Russian Federation's expansion and upgrade of the Lourdes facility.

• It was reported in December 1999 that a high-ranking Russian military
delegation headed by Deputy Chief of the General Staff Colonel-General
Valentin Korabelnikov visited Cuba to discuss the continuing Russian
operation of the Lourdes facility.

Defense experts agree the base could significantly boost Russia's
ability to spy on America during a low-point in U.S.-Russia relations.

Ivan Konovalov, head of the Moscow-based Center for Strategic Trends
Studies, estimated that the Lourdes base was used to acquire at least
50% of the Soviet Union's radio-intercepted intelligence from the U.S.,
according to Reuters.

Reopening the Lourdes base could boost Russia's intelligence-gathering
capabilities "quite significantly" as U.S.-Russia relations remain
strained. "One needs to remember that Russia's technical intelligence
abilities are very weak. This will help," Konovalov told Reuters.

If reopened, the base will demonstrate Russia's interest in maintaining
its own alliances to counter those of the U.S.

"After what's happened in Ukraine, with all these alliances the United
States has developed, Russia is showing it's joining the game and that
it too can lean on allies and form alliances," Sergey Ermakov, head of
the Regional Security Section at the Russian Institute for Strategic
Studies, told Reuters.

Source: The Spy Base Russia May Reopen In Lourdes, Cuba - Business
Insider -

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