By Lyndsey Kelly
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
HAVANA, Cuba – Recent news reports suggest that Russia has reached a provisional agreement with Cuba to reopen its electronic spying center which was once located on the Caribbean island and used to spy on the United States. Sources state that the agreement was made between Russia and Cuba on Friday, July 11th when Russian President Vladimir Putin made a trip to Havana, Cuba.
The Russian base was created in Lourdes, Cuba, just south of Havana, in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis. At the height of the Cold War the Russian intelligence base had nearly 3,000 personnel and was the biggest center used by Russia to gather intelligence from radio signals.
The base, located just 150 miles from the United States coast closed thirteen years ago. The precise reason behind the closing of the base is unclear. The Russians claim it was a “goodwill gesture” toward the United States, while many United States officials believed it was a result of an economic crisis at the time.
Russian defense experts say that reopening the base would be a logical move for Russia as it would significantly increase the country’s ability to gather intelligence. Vyacheslav Trubnikov, the former head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, told a Russian newspaper, “Lourdes gave the Soviet Union eyes in the whole of the western hemisphere… For Russia, which is fighting for its lawful rights and place in the international community, it would be no less valuable for the USSR.”
Reports did not give any financial details as to the agreement between Russia and Cuba. However, it has been noted that before President Vladimir Putin’s trip to Havana, Russia agreed to forgive 90 percent of Cuba’s $32 billion Soviet-era debt.
Putin has denied all reports that Russia plans to reopen the Lourdes base, and said that Russia has no plans to resume the electronic spying center. Additionally, Cuba has remained silent as to the reports. If the reports prove to be true the efforts made by Cuban President Raul Castro to build a more pragmatic relationship with the United States may quite possibly be damaged.
Despite the alleged efforts made by Russia to reopen the intelligence base, analysts say that Russia’s ability to gather information on the United States Government would be severely limited due to the improvements in technology since the Cold War.
For more information, please see the following:
HAVANA TIMES – Russia to Reopen Spy Center in Cuba – 16 July 2014.
REUTERS – Putin Denies Russia to Reopen Soviet-Era Post In Cuba – 17 July 2014.
REUTERS – Russia set to reopen Soviet-Era Spy Post on Cuba: Source – 16 July 2014.
WASHINGTON TIMES – Putin Gives Obama ‘Middle Finger,’ Strikes Deal to Reactivate Spy Base In Cuba – 16 July 2014.