May 31, 2015
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
I expressed my own interpretation of Kerry’s meeting with Putin in my May 21 post, where I wrote that it concerned the possibility of Russia leaving the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty which would enable Russia to place such weapons in Cuba. Now that we know about the May 9 agreement between Vladimir Putin, Xi Xinping, and Raul Castro on re-establishing the radioelectronic surveillance center in Lourdes (Cuba), it’s clear why the meeting took place only three days after that agreement.
The agreement in principle was reached already in July 2014 during Putin’s visit to Cuba. At the time the US was acting more calmly. The state of the Russian economy prevented rapid implementation. When the center was created starting in 1961 (it entered service in 1967), it cost $3 billion, now it would be several times more expensive, and Russia doesn’t have money for unscheduled expenses of this magnitude. But the money appeared on May 9 as China joined the project thus making the center a Russian-Chinese one which is what drove the US nuts and propelled Kerry to Sochi only three days later.
What is the Washington and Pentagon afraid of? Now the US will find itself under close surveillance. Equipment at Lourdes (only 90 miles from US coast) was unique and had no equivalent in the world (now it is gathering dust in warehouses). It permits the intereception of communications to and from US and international communications satellites. Moreover, the proximity to the US makes it possible to intercept cell phone communications, and civilian and military radio stations on a large portion of US territory.
US intelligence services more than once expressed their concern that Russia would be able to access not only political and military data, but also US firms’ trade secrets and even US citizen personal information. Russia will also be able to get instant warning of ballistic missile launches from US territory.
Judge for yourselves what’s more important to the US, Syria and Ukraine or falling under Russian and Chinese intelligence surveillance.
J.Hawk’s Comment: Lourdes probably doesn’t outweigh the other two, and Kerry’s visit was likely planned before May 9. However, it is a major step forward in the Russian-Chinese relationship (let’s also keep in mind China’s plans to build the Panama Canal alternative through Nicaragua) which is indeed very worrisome to Washington.