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Putin Denies Plans to Re-open Soviet-Era Intel Outpost in Cuba

RIA Novosti

06:32 17/07/2014

BRASILIA, July 17 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has not confirmed rumors alleging that Moscow and Havana last week agreed to re-open a major electronic intelligence facility in Cuba.

"No, it is not true," Putin said about the claims that USSR's largest electronic intelligence outpost was about to be restored.

Russia's Kommersant business daily newspaper reported on a deal with Cuba to re-open the SIGINT facility in Lourdes, near Havana. The agreement was allegedly reached during Vladimir Putin's one-day visit to Cuba last Friday where he talked with the island's incumbent and former leaders, Raul and Fidel Castro.

The facility 250 kilometers off US shore was mothballed in 2001 under US pressure and due to the lack of financing. But according to the media, Moscow has been mulling a re-launch since 2004. With the Cuban facility up and running again, Russia would have a far better intelligence capability in the western hemisphere than it has now.

The news of the possible restart alarmed Washington, with State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki commenting on the rumor Wednesday.

"There hasn't been any formal announcement from the Russian or the Cuban governments,' Psaki said in Washington.

"I would naturally have nothing to add on alleged Russian intelligence facilities, so if there's more public statements made then perhaps we'll have more to say,' she remarked.

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