World Bulletin/News Desk
Russia has quietly reached a provisional agreement with Cuba on reopening a big Soviet-era base on the Caribbean island from which it spied in the United States, a Russian security source said on Wednesday.
The proposed move comes as U.S.-Russian relations have reached a post-Cold War low in a dispute over policy towards Ukraine.
Confirming a report in the daily Kommersant newspaper which said the deal was agreed in principle during a visit to Cuba last week by President Vladimir Putin, the source told Reuters: "A framework agreement has been agreed."
At the height of the Cold War, the base at Lourdes, just south of the capital Havana, had up to 3,000 personnel and was the biggest centre Moscow operated abroad for gathering intelligence from radio signals.
The base, 250 km (150 miles) from the U.S. coast, was also used to provide communications for Russian ships.
Government and Kremlin officials did not immediately comment. The base was closed in 2001 to cut costs.
Since the crisis worsened in February, the United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia and Moscow has been trying to bolster ties with other countries, including in Asia and Latin America, to ensure Russia is not isolated.
While visiting Cuba, the Russian leader pledged to help revive its former Cold War-era ally's offshore oil exploration. . In Argentina, he signed a trade deal intended to increase Russia's influence in the region.
EXPERTS SEE BASE AS BOOST FOR RUSSIA
The base at Lourdes was created in 1964, after the Cuban missile crisis, to gather intelligence on the United States. It monitored signals from and to submarines and ships as well as satellite communications.
The missile crisis in 1962, after Moscow proposed placing Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, is widely regarded as the moment in the Cold War when the United States and the Soviet Union came closest to a nuclear confrontation.Last Mod: 16 Temmuz 2014, 17:24