Voices from Russia

Monday, 21 July 2008

Former Air Force Commander says that Russia needs bombers in Cuba due to NATO expansion

Filed under: diplomacy,military,NATO,politics,Russian,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bomber, of the same vintage as and equal to the US B-52, both the Buff and the Bear have more mileage in them yet

The possible deployment of Russian strategic bombers in Cuba may be an effective response to the placement of NATO bases near Russia’s borders, a former Air Force commander said on Monday. The Russian newspaper Izvestiya earlier on Monday cited a senior Russian military source as saying that Russian strategic bombers could be stationed again in Cuba, only 90 miles (145 kilometres) from the US coast, in response to the US missile shield in Europe.

“If these plans are being considered, it would be a good response to the attempts to place NATO bases near the Russian borders”, General of the Army Pyotr Deinekin told RIA-Novosti. “I do not see anything wrong with it because nobody listens to our objections when they place airbases and electronic monitoring and surveillance stations near our borders”, he said. However, General Deinekin said the possibility of Russian bombers being stationed in Cuba is largely hypothetical, because Russian Tu-160 and Tu-95MS strategic bombers are both capable of reaching the US coast, patrolling the area for about 1.5 hours, and returning to airbases in Russia with mid-air refuelling.

Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans last August, following an order signed by former President Vladimir Putin. Russian bombers have since carried out over 80 strategic patrol flights and are often been escorted by NATO planes. General Deinekin suggested that Cuba could be used as a refuelling stopover for Russian aircraft rather than as a permanent base, because the Russian political and military leadership would be unlikely to take such a drastic step under current global political conditions.

In October 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the US and the USSR to the brink of nuclear war when Soviet missiles were stationed in Cuba. The crisis was resolved after 12 days when the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, backed down and ordered the missiles removed. Moscow had a military presence on Cuba for almost four decades after that, maintaining an electronic listening post at Lourdes, about 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) from Havana, to monitor US military moves and communications. Russia paid 200 million dollars (4.643 billion roubles. 125.52 million euros. 99.8 million UK pounds) a year to lease the base, which it closed down in January 2002.

21 July 2008



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