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Cuban Missile Crisis 2
Jul 21, 2008, 16:58 GMT
Moscow - The Russian military is considering deploying long- range bombers to Cuba to counter the perceived threat of the US missile defence shield planned to be based in the Czech Republic and Poland, according to Russian media reports Monday.
'At the moment, there are just thoughts - but that doesn't mean there isn't something concrete behind it,' an unidentified officer was quoted Monday as telling Izvestiya newspaper.
He said the aircraft under consideration were Tu-160 and Tu-95 MC bombers. Russia gave up in 2001 a base in Lourdes, Cuba, which had been set up during the Soviet era.
The former commander of this base, Lieutenant-General Mikhail Oparin, was quoted as welcoming the idea. 'Russia's air fleet must work towards a presence in every corner of the world,' he told Interfax news agency. The US, after all, had bases worldwide.
'An extended radius of action for our air force could be a response to the one-sided action of the USA in setting up a strategic system on Russia's borders,' he added.
The newspaper said that from a technical point of view there would be no problem basing Russian bombers on Cuba for a limited period. However, Moscow's view on doing this was unclear.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, while he was still president, had threatened 'reprisal measures' if the US went ahead with basing its missile defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. He warned that Russia was able to target central Europe with its own missiles.
Russia views the planned deployment of ten US missiles in Poland and a radar facility the Czech Republic as a threat. However, the presence of Russian bombers on Cuba would provoke an international conflict, the Izvestiya report said.
Just 90 kilometres separated Cuba from the US coast, and the US had 'eyes and ears' on Cuba with its Guantanamo base.
In 1962 the Cuba crisis saw the US and Soviet Union in a dramatic face-off before Moscow abandoned plans to built missiles bases there.