News / Europe

Putin Denies Cuba Spy Base Reopening

Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, and Cuba's President Raul Castro applaud at Revolution Palace in Havana, Cuba, July 11, 2014.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, and Cuba's President Raul Castro applaud at Revolution Palace in Havana, Cuba, July 11, 2014.
Victoria Macchi

Russian President Vladimir Putin is denying media reports that he will reopen a Soviet-era base in Cuba used to spy on the United States.

Putin said Thursday there are no plans to resume operations at the Lourdes signals intelligence facility near Havana, after Russian media first reported a day earlier that the two countries provisionally agreed to the deal last week.

"Russia is capable of fulfilling the defense capacity tasks without this component [Lourdes],"  Putin told state-owned ITAR-TASS news agency toward the end of a six-day tour of Latin America.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman declined Wednesday to comment on the news report because a formal agreement had not been officially announced.

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American and vocal opponent of Cuban leadership, told VOA that reopening the intelligence base would show "the Castro regime has only malevolent intentions toward the United States."

The jointly operated Soviet-Cuban base in the Havana suburbs started conducting electronic surveillance in 1964 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was the Soviet Union's largest foreign base, with approximately 3,000 employees.

Diaz-Balart noted the facility's proximity to vital military installations in Florida like the Tampa-based Central Command, which oversees U.S. operations in the Middle East and Central Asia.

The Florida congressman said, "By inviting one of America's adversaries to a spy facility only 90 miles from our shores, the Castro [government] is actively working to harm key U.S. national security interests."

Until Putin closed the base in 2001, Moscow used it to intercept voice and data telephone transmissions relayed from the U.S. by satellite.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant, which broke the story Wednesday, quoted Cuban President Raul Castro as saying that up to 75 percent of Moscow's intelligence on the United States came from the base.  

The newspaper did not specify details of the most recent alleged deal.

After talks with Castro in Havana at the start of a Latin America tour late last week, Putin unveiled plans to write off $32 billion of old Soviet debt -- 90 percent of what Cuba still owes. He said the other 10 percent would be reinvested in Cuban development projects.

In the 1990s, Russia agreed to give Cuba approximately $200 million worth of goods like fuel and timber, and military equipment parts, to keep the joint operation open annually.

With the escalation of the Ukraine crisis since February, the U.S. and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia, leading Moscow to try to bolster ties with other countries, including in Asia and Latin America, to ensure Russia is not isolated.

Talk of the Lourdes base reopening came shortly before the U.S. announced fresh sanctions against Russia in response to an uptick in violence between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces over the weekend.

"We have to see concrete actions, and not just words that Russia in fact is committed to trying to end this conflict along the Russia-Ukraine border," Mr. Obama told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

VOA's Scott Stearns contributed to this story, along with reports from Reuters and AFP.

 

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid