Russia said to plan revamp of listening post in Cuba

Russia said to plan revamp of listening post in Cuba
Russia's Lourdes SIGINT base in Cuba. YouTube video, CBS News

[Ed. – The headlines on this are kind of sensationalist (if not necessarily at Jamestown Foundation), and it’s not getting much play, which for once is probably good.  Russia has actually never shut down the signals intelligence base in Lourdes, Cuba, opened during the Cold War.  Moscow and Havana touted a “reopening” in 2014.  Now they seem to be signaling with diplomatic activity that they’re double-plus reopening or something.  Bottom line: U.S. intelligence is well aware of what’s going on at Lourdes, and it’s to be expected.  Keep in mind that Russian spy ships have regularly operated out of Cuba to keep our coast under surveillance for the last five-plus years.]

Vladimir Putin appears to be readying to reactivate a Soviet-era signals intelligence (SIGINT) base in Cuba that he closed back in 2002. This prospect is already attracting concerned attention in the West but may be more of a negotiating ploy in response to the United States’ announcement that it was pulling out of the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. In fact, the basing site in question, which Cuba has since converted into a university, is relatively small and would duplicate rather than significantly add to Russian abilities to monitor US activities in the Caribbean. Nonetheless, if the Kremlin leader should decide to establish additional bases in Cuba, as some Russian commentators are now suggesting, that would be a different matter altogether—particularly if he succeeds in this goal.

Last week, the new Cuban president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, met with Putin in Moscow and said he wanted to give “a new impulse” to bilateral relations between Havana and the Russian capital. He explicitly mentioned health care and tourism. Yet, Russian observers stressed that the two leaders focused on military cooperation as well…

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