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Russia's Military Considers Reestablishing Military Bases in Vietnam and Cuba

November 06th - 2017

Head of the Russian upper house's Defense and Security Committee Viktor Bondarev has has suggested that Moscow should consider the restoration of its military presence in Cuba and Vietnam. He referred to these countries as Russia's "historical partners" - with both having hosted Soviet military facilities during the Cold War - and said that restoring the country's military presence was, as a result of "intensified U.S. aggression," in the "interests of international security."

Russia's only foreign military facilities outside the former Soviet bloc today are in Syria, where the country maintains a key Naval base on the Mediterranean Sea. Facilities in Vietnam and Cuba however would allow Russia to project power to strategically critical regions, with the former being in the Asia-Pacific and the latter in the Caribbean near the American coast. With Cuba essentially defenseless against the United States military, which has increased its threats against and rhetoric towards the country in recent years, and with Vietnam increasingly threatened by China and, in light of Russia's lack of a substantial presence in the region, forced to rely on the U.S. to balance Chinese power, the restoration of a Russian military presence could be a welcome asset for both countries.

Bondarev stated in regards to the potential for future foreign military facilities: "I believe under the condition of increased tension in the world and frank intervention in the internal affairs of other countries - Russia's historical partners - our return to Latin America is not ruled out. Of course, this should be coordinated with the Cubans... We should also think about our Navy's return to Vietnam with the permission of the (Vietnamese) government." He noted that such steps would be effective responses to increased U.S. assertiveness in both regions. Bondarev was far from alone in calls for such action, and his statement came just hours after the first deputy chairman of the Russian parliament's upper chamber's Defense and Security Committee, Frants Klintsevich, also called for a reopening of military facilities in Cuba. In 2016 Russian lawmakers, Valery Rushkin and Sergei Obukhov, had also submitted a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu calling on them to consider the restoration of the bases. Amid growing tensions with the United States and Russia's growing role in the Pacific to counterbalance the U.S. Pivot to Asia such plans may well come to fruition. A Russian military presence would shift the balance of power in both regions significantly against the favour of the United States - and it remains a potent card that Moscow has left to play as its relations with Washington continue to deteriorate.


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