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    Russia Has No Plans to Open Military Base in Cuba

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    The relations between Moscow and Havana are developing in a completely different way, a Russian diplomat said.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Moscow has no plans of opening military bases in Cuba, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Latin American Department said.

    “We have no plans whatsoever of opening military bases in Cuba. We have never brought this up. Our relations with Cuba are heading in a completely different way. The issues of the military capability of the Cuban Armed Forces is a completely different aspect, but it has absolutely no grounds to say that we are getting ready to create something there,” Alexander Shchetinin told RIA Novosti in an interview.

    In May, Russian parliamentarian Dmitry Gorovtsov said Russia could soon reopen the Lourdes signal intelligence center near Havana, closed in 2001.

    The statement came following intensified military-industrial cooperation between Russia and Cuba, including large-scale joint projects in the fields of energy and civil aviation.

    On Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russian-Cuban military-technical cooperation was developing rather actively and was very positive and dynamic.

    Cuba Has All Rights to Return Guantanamo Base Under Its Control

    “The Cuban government undoubtedly has all the grounds necessary to raise the issue in the political plan of returning the territory of Guantanamo back to Cuba. This is one of the demands that has been expressed as one of the key components in the process of normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba,” Shchetinin said.

    In December 2014, the United States and Cuba announced a course to normalize their relations after over 50 years of freezing them. In July 2015, the two countries reopened their embassies in Washington and Havana.

    Washington has had a lease on Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay, where a US naval base is located, since 1903. Once the United States severed relations with Cuba in 1959, Havana has been demanding the return of Guantanamo Bay, calling the US control of the territory illegal.

    In 2002, the Guantanamo Bay detention facility was opened within the Guantanamo Naval Base in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

    In late January 2015, Cuban President Raul Castro called on the United States to return the Guantanamo Bay area to Cuba.

    Despite the fact that US President Barack Obama has repeatedly promised to close the Guantanamo detention facility, known for its alleged use of torture, this has not happened.

    “Some have begun to put forward the thought lately that since the normalization in relations between Cuba and the United States has started and now the Americans will come and then Russia will have nothing to do in Cuba. And the idea that it’s ‘a matter of time’ before [we] need to move out. First of all, this idea in of itself is incorrect,” Shchetinin told RIA Novosti.

    In August, press attache of the Russian Embassy in Cuba Alexander Stepunin told Sputnik that Russia perceived the reestablishment of normal diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba as a victory for the island nation.

    On Wednesday, Cuban Ambassador to the European Union Norma Goicochea Estenoz said Cuba would not change its policy of cooperation with Russia, China and Latin American countries amid the stabilization of ties between Havana and Washington.


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