16 July 2014, 10:22

Russia regains control of radio facility in Cuba's Lourdes base

Russia regains control of radio facility in Cuba's Lourdes base

Russia has retrieved the main Soviet radio interception facility – the signals intelligence center in Cuban Lourdes, the Kommersant newspaper wrote on Wednesday. "The decision to return to Cuba can be explained by Russia's long strengthened financial capabilities, as well as cooling of relations with the US," sources in the Russian power structures said.

The base on the territory of the USSR's and Russia's most consistent ally was built in 1962 and since then, has been repeatedly renewed, satisfying the need for interception of information from American communication satellites, ground-based telecommunications cables and wiretapping the NASA's Mission Control Center on Cape Canaveral. This is facilitated by its location in the Western part of the island, only 250 kilometers from Florida's coast.

In 2001, unexpectedly for the Cubans, Russia refused to use the center, which, according to the then Minister of Defense of Cuba Raul Castro, at the moment of the collapse of the USSR provided up to 75 percent of intelligence information.

The center was closed after Vladimir Putin visited it together with Fidel Castro in December, 2000, and while speaking to the staff stated "the importance of the facility for ensuring Russia's security, the need to support its activities and development prospects." But a year later, head of the Russian General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin made a statement that the center in Lourdes was not important, was costly, and its functions could be easily transferred to modern satellites.

Cubans were able to maintain the center, having created a scientific center on its basis. Since 2004, after the deterioration of relations with the US, Russia began to consider the possibility of returning to Cuba. The talks were sharply intensified at the beginning of this year and successfully completed during Putin's visit to Havana.

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