BUSH’S CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS
Russia responds to U.S. plan for European missile ‘shield’ by upping the ante in Cuba
By James P. Tucker Jr.
Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons could be deployed to Cuba if the U.S. persists in plans to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, according to the state-control newspaper, Izvestia.
The report prompts memories of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when the U.S. and Soviet Union came to the brink of nuclear war after Nikita Khrushchev put nuclear weapons on the island. The weapons were eventually withdrawn in an apparent Soviet back down, but President John Kennedy secretly agreed to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey.
“While they are deploying the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, our strategic bombers will already be landing in Cuba,” Izvestia quoted the source, identified as a senior Russian air force official. Izvestia is frequently used for strategic leaks by the Kremlin and other officials.
Russian strategic bombers, mothballed since the end of the Cold War in 1991, resumed worldwide patrols last year on orders from then-President Vladimir Putin. The flights have continued under his successor, Dmitry Medvedev.
Cuba was a client state of Moscow for decades during the Soviet era. However, those ties have largely ended since the early 1990s. Russia closed its last base on the island, a radar facility, in 2002. It is unclear whether the Cuban government would grant landing rights to Russian bombers today.
Actually, Cuba’s love affair with the Soviet Union was tactical. The late Andrew St. George was in the hills with Fidel Castro when he rebelled against the Batista regime.
It was there, St. George reported in the Spotlight (AFP’s lineal ancestor), that Castro decided to ally with the Soviet Union. Doing so, he correctly reasoned, would result in more aid from the Soviets than Cuba would receive as just another client state of the U.S. Fidel had been educated at the University of Louisiana and was a pitcher for the Washington Senators’ farm team.
(Issue # 31, August 4, 2008)