Friday, July 18, 2014

What’s Putin Putting in Cuba?

What's Putin Putting in Cuba?
[17-07-2014 13:30:32]
Jaime Suchlicki
Director del Instituto de Estudios Cubanos y Cubano-Americanos de la
Universidad de Miami

( The recent Putin visit to Cuba rekindled
memories of the Cold War. In those days the Soviets used Cuba to
challenge and spy on the U.S. An electronic eavesdropping facility was
placed on the island. Airports and ports to service the Soviet planes
and fleet were upgraded. Finally nuclear missiles were introduced
bringing the world close to a nuclear holocaust.
These are different times. The U.S. is a much stronger power. Russia is
a smaller, weaker nation.

Yet the Russians defied the U.S. and Europe over Crimea; are not
particularly cooperative on Iran; have profound differences with the
U.S. over a possible Nato-missile deployment in Europe; and recently
deployed in Kaliningrad, in the Baltic, tactical nuclear missiles to the
chagrin of the U.S.

Within these growing U.S.-Russian differences, what's Putin up to in
Cuba? First there is no significant Russian interest in commercial
relations with a poor, debt ridden country lacking in major mineral
resources and the ability to purchase large scale Russian goods. Second,
while Russia signed agreements with General Raul Castro's regime to
continue to search for petroleum in Cuba's waters, the Russians have
enough petroleum and no need for Cuban petroleum. Third, these are not
the Soviets, willing to subsidize the bankrupt economy of an ally.

The Russian visit is primarily strategic, perhaps aimed at poking the
Americans in the eye. Russian investments in the Port of Mariel and the
construction of a modern airport in San Antonio de los Baños, may not
presage the visit of Russian tourists, but of naval vessels including
nuclear submarines, and long range bombers. Also the installation of
Glonass infrastructure could provide Cuba with remote sensory and
satellite telecommunications, as well as a facility to eavesdrop on U.S.
military and commercial communications, not much different than the
Lourdes facility of the Cold War era, but much more sophisticated.

It seems that Putin and the Russian military are not content with
remaining a second rate power. By this visit and actions, Putin is
giving notice to Washington that Russia is ready for an aggressive
projection of power and for a new internationalism.

Source: What's Putin Putting in Cuba? - Misceláneas de Cuba -

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