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Back to Cuba?

DPA news agency (win)July 24, 2008

Russian officials Russian military experts are recommending reactivating a radar facility on Cuba in response to US plans for a missile defense shield based in the Czech Republic and Poland, according to news reports.

A crowd of people in Cuba with Cuban flags
It's not clear whether Cubans would actually welcome the Russians againImage: AP

Alexander Pikayev of the Institute for World Economic Sciences was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as saying a facility closed down in 2001 in Lourdes, Cuba, could be put back into service.

The reported proposal follows a warning Tuesday by a top US Air Force general that the deployment of Russian bombers to Cuba would cross a "red line" and the United States should urge its former Cold War foe against taking the step.

Russian media had earlier reported the military was also weighing whether to reinstate a Cold War practice of resuming bomber flights to Cuba or deploying them there.

"We should engage the Russians not to pursue that approach," General Norton Schwartz, nominated by Bush to become the top Air Force officer, told a Senate committee. "And if they did, I think, we should stand strong and indicate that that is something that crosses a threshold, crosses a red line for the United States."

Just a thought?

An unnamed Russian officer meanwhile told Russian newspaper Izvestiya that the Cuban proposal was just an initial thought.

"But that doesn't mean there isn't something concrete behind it," he added.

View of a Russian Radar station shield
Russian radar stations aren't exactly a pretty sightImage: AP

The White House refused to directly comment on the report because the Russian government has not publicly stated its intentions. But spokesman Dana Perino reiterated the view that the stationing of missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic does not threaten Russia.

The United States is working on agreements with the two countries to counter Iran's growing ballistic capability.