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Russian missiles install in Cuba in the 1960s. (CIA photo)
Russia is offering to modernize Cuba's deteriorating weapons systems – installed when the former Soviet Union was expanding worldwide – and it also wants to reactivate a sensitive electronic eavesdropping station on the nearby island at Lourdes, and use Cuba as a base to refuel its bombers and a port to replenish supplies on its warships, according to a report from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.
These developments emerged following the visit to Cuba in late September by Gen. Nikolai Makarov, chief of the Russian General Staff. Makarov met with Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana.
Cuba's Soviet-made military equipment has been falling apart. After an assessment, the Russian military has decided to undertake a comprehensive modernization. In addition, the Cuban army also will receive Russian military training.
Cuba is only 90 miles south of Florida, where the U.S. has considerable military facilities which the Russians could easily monitor.
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"We inspected the condition of this equipment, and outlined the measures to be taken to maintain the defense capability of this country," Makarov said. "I think a lot of work needs to be done in this respect, and I hope we will be able to accomplish this task."
Makarov pointed out that during the Soviet era, the Russians delivered considerable military equipment to Cuba. After all these years, he said, most of the weaponry has become obsolete and needs repair.
Then in August 2008 Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared that Russia needed to rebuild its links to the Cuban island.
He was careful not to say that Russia was establishing bases in Cuba, even though Moscow apparently intends to use the Caribbean island as a potential refueling stop for its nuclear-capable bombers and for ports of call for its warships.
Then Russian Air Force chief Gen. Anatoly Zhikharev in March 2009 had made it clear that Cuba, as well as Venezuela, could be used to base Russia's strategic bombers, although the Kremlin was quick to add at the time that such a development was "hypothetical."
"We need to reestablish positions on Cuba and in other countries," Putin said.
The moves have been developing for some time. In December 2008 a group of Russian warships, headed by the destroyer Admiral Chabanenko, visited.
And in 2007, Putin began to focus on Cuba in response to the Bush administration's plans to install a permanent missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. He said that such action was analogous to the time in 1962 when the then–Soviet Union deployed rockets on Cuba and provoked the Cuban missile crisis.