Russia has no plans to reopen military bases in Cuba, according to a statement from a Russian diplomat Tuesday. The Cold War allies are focusing on strengthening economic and diplomatic relations, Tass Russian state news agency reported.
"This issue [of opening bases] is not on the agenda," Alexander Schetinin, the director of the Latin American department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, told Tass. "Our cooperation is now developing in other areas — this is first of all our very close friendly foreign policy cooperation," he said, adding, "These are issues of advancing our economic and investment cooperation."
Russia and Cuba's involvement stretches back to the Cold War in the 1960s when their shared ideology of communism drew them closer together following the Cuban revolution and Fidel Castro's rise to power in 1959. Cuba received financial assistance from the then-U.S.S.R. and agreed to allow the Kremlin to place military bases and nuclear missiles on the island, which is 100 miles off the coast of the southeastern United States. The missiles were eventually removed following an agreement between Russia and the U.S. though the military base wasn’t shuttered until the early 21st century.
Russia has no plans of reopening military bases in Cuba — diplomat https://t.co/IHl4zk6PUA
— TASS (@tassagency_en) February 9, 2016
Russian President Vladimir Putin has looked to make increasingly close relations with Cuba a priority, visiting the country shortly after his election as president in 2000. Relations grew frosty between the two countries after Russia closed down its last military base on the island in the early 2000s, and Russian diplomats have sought to re-establish bilateral ties, particularly following an agreement between the U.S. and Cuba in 2015 that ended decades of hostilities between the two countries.
“What Putin is doing is re-establishing the relationships that, when Russia was turning west, planning to become part of wider Europe, and giving up the legacy of the Soviet Union, were actually neglected,” Nina Khrushcheva, an associate professor of international affairs at the New School and granddaughter of former Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev, told Newsweek in August 2014. “I think that stands at the core of his re-engagement,” she said.