Published on: Nov 19, 2018 @ 14:35 – The possibility of Russia being able to reopen its military bases in Cuba has raised concerns among Western countries. Russia will continue to do this in Cuba and in Latin America on the whole, so long as the US continues to interfere in the military and political processes in the former Warsaw Pact countries, and so long as the US uses its political influence in Europe to cause harm to Russia economically.
This all comes however in the context of a global scaling-back of US military power-projection capacity. Russia has little direct strategic interests in the Americas – what strategic interests it has are primarily used as a hedge against US interference in Eurasia. This is a situation where NATO increasingly crept eastward in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR.
Hypothetically, Russia and the US could make an arrangement – the US pulls out of Eurasia, Russia pulls its support to several Latin American countries including Venezuela and Cuba. This would allow Russia to consolidate a natural alliance with Europe, and allow the US to re-orient its power, as a land-power, into Latin America.
At the same time, Russia and China have agreed to make the large bulk of their geostrategic moves as a team. China’s relations with Latin America are far more extensive than those of Russia. This creates a quandary, but more problematically is that in the US there exists a deep-state which is structurally welded to US power-projection in Eurasia, and the desire for the US to maintain or bring back its de facto imperial status, as a sea power.
Changes in technology and the growth of the military and industrial capacities in the so-called developing world have approached the present moment, where the US’s naval power – the use of the aircraft carrier and destroyer to attack land targets from the sea – has come nearly to an end.
We have seen these concerns about Russian influence in Latin America since the time of the Cold-War, in the press. Russia did not develop the capacity to re-engage with Latin America in a significant way until recent years. In response to a ‘resurgent Russia’, the US-based Jamestown Foundation, which describes itself as “an institute for research and analysis, founded in 1984 as a platform to support Soviet defectors”, has published a report outlining the ‘risks’ posed to US domination of the Western Hemisphere as a result of this resurgent Russia.
The Jameston Foundation assessed that Western countries are concerned that Russia could reinstall its bases in Cuba in response to threats by US President Donald Trump to withdraw the US from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). The US withdrawal from the INF treaty was a major move on the part of Atlanticist powers, and was seen rightly as a preparation for war on the part of Russian leadership. Putin made a now-famous declaration any nuclear first-strike on Russia would result in the nuclear annihilation of the United States. The statement was made using religious analogy as well, meaning that the statement was not only aimed at a bellicose United States, but at the Russian people themselves. In short, it communicated to the US that Russia would retain the support of its people, along moral and religious lines, in the event of a major nuclear exchange – that the Russian people were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and would not make moves to destabilize their own government towards a capitulation of the US simply as a result of nuclear threats from NATO.
The Jamestown Foundation stressed that the increase in Russian military influence in the region is particularly alarming because it was in 1962 that the Cuban Missile Crisis broke out, when the Soviet Union planned to send nuclear weapons to Cuba.
According to the report, concerns arose after an official visit to Moscow by the president of the Council of State and Ministers of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, where he met with Vladimir Putin and several other Russian politicians.
Discussions on military cooperation between the two countries have made analysts think that Moscow could reopen its radioelectronic intelligence center at Lourdes, closed in 2002, and set up new bases to oversee US activities.
Miguel Díaz-Canel conducted his historic trip to Russia between November 1st and 3rd at the invitation of Vladimir Putin. The Cuban leader met with the Russian president, as well as with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the chairman of the State Duma (Russian lower house of parliament), Vyacheslav Volodin, and Russian Senate President Valentina Matvienko.
On October 20th, 2018, Donald Trump moved to withdraw the country from the INF, signed in 1987 between the USSR and the US and considered today as one of the pillars of the current balance of forces in the sphere of nuclear weapons. Later, the US president added that the US will increase its nuclear capabilities until other countries, such as Russia and China, “take reason.”
However, this appears as an ultimately futile effort by Washington to try and stop the inevitable rise of China and Russia. In reality, the US has been violating the intention of the INF for sometime, as military technology evolved in such ways as to make that a practical reality. It is difficult to assess the aims of the US, and the relationship between US policy in reality and the policy aims as stated by its nominally elected government.
The US has established itself as ‘not-agreement capable’, in words of Lavrov. While one can see some advantages to this policy – one effected through a complex design of compartmentalization and a system of dual-power – it becomes increasingly a liability as US power wanes and it does need in fact to make binding agreements which other powers can find meaningful. For these reasons, Russia will continue, with a relatively high degree of success, supported by China, to increase its economic and military presence in Latin America, just as it has in the Levant.