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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More