Russia wants to set up a naval base in Cuba and Vietnam as President Vladimir Putin undertakes the country’s biggest military overhaul since the Soviet era, which threatens to strain relations with the United States.
The country has been working on establishing its military expansion for resupply in other areas in the world, and it comes at a time when Syria is creating a lot of bad feelings.
Russia’s intentions for overseas military expansion threaten to further strain relations with the U.S. when the former superpower rivals are at loggerheads over American missile-shield plans and how to respond to the fighting in Syria.
“There’s a lot of tension between Washington and Moscow right now as Syria is creating a lot of bad feeling between them,” said Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent defense analyst in Moscow. “This will be seen by some in the U.S. as the Russian bear growling in its lair.”
Pentagon spokesman George Little said Russia has “a right to enter into military agreements and relationships” with other nations, just as the U.S. does. He didn’t raise concern about Russia seeking military access to Cuba, which lies near the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico and is 90 miles south of the Florida Keys.
“I’m aware of the reports, but I don’t know that an agreement has been reached between the Russians and Cubans on a base,” Little told reporters at the Pentagon today.
Under the deal that ended the 1962 Cuban crisis, the Soviet Union withdrew its missiles and pledged not to station offensive weapons on the island. Russian military cooperation with Cuba ended in 2002 after Russia closed its radar base at Lourdes, Russia’s only intelligence-gathering center in the Western hemisphere, which had been operating since the 1960s.
Vietnam’s President Truong Tan Sang said in an interview broadcast by Voice of Russia radio that his country is ready to let Russia set up a servicing facility in Cam Ranh Bay, a former Soviet naval base, though Vietnam will not lease its territory to any country.