Granma Diario
Octubre 18, 2001


                    Numerous international press agencies reported today that the
                    President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, declared
                    that as of January 2002, his country would close its military
                    Electronic Radar Stations in Cam Ranh, Vietnam and Lourdes,

                    With regard to Cuba, he stated that "after lengthy negotiations
                    with our Cuban partners, it was recognized that withdrawing the
                    Electronic Radar Station from Cuba would be a positive move."

                    Also today, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed
                    Forces, Army Commander Anatoly Kvashnin, declared that
                    "Russia is withdrawing its military bases from Cuba and
                    Vietnam as a result of the change in the military-political
                    situation in the world, and in view of the savings in financial
                    resources for the army and navy. The annual lease on the
                    Electronic Radar Station is around 200 million dollars, without
                    taking into account the maintenance of staff. With this money we
                    can buy and launch 20 reconnaissance satellites, and purchase
                    around 100 radars."

                    To avoid any errors or confusion, the Government of Cuba
                    would like to clarify that the two facilities should not have been
                    lumped together in the Russian declaration, because they differ
                    greatly in their origins, functions and importance.

                    Cam Ranh was a naval base built by the United States some 20
                    thousand kilometers away from its territory and leased to the
                    USSR in 1979, years after the war had ended. It is of barely any
                    use for a country like Russia, which has had practically no
                    surface vessel fleet since the demise of the Soviet Union.

                    At this moment, Vietnam faces no danger of military aggression
                    from the United States since relations between the two
                    countries are normal. For Vietnam, the United States poses no
                    risk whatsoever. There can be no doubt that the decision was
                    previously discussed and approved by both countries.

                    The Lourdes Electronic Radar Station was established in 1964,
                    two years after the Missile Crisis. The USSR did not pay a cent
                    for the services it received from Cuba, in view of the close
                    cooperation between the two countries at that time in both the
                    economic and military fields.

                    In 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the Russian
                    Federation fully assumed the rights and privileges of the former
                    Union, Russia unilaterally withdrew the military brigade that had
                    remained in Cuba after the Missile Crisis for a period of some
                    30 years, all this as a result of negotiations and agreements with
                    the United States. At the same time, however, Russia
                    expressed interest in maintaining the Lourdes Electronic Radar
                    Station as an important element for its strategic security,
                    particularly as a means of verifying strict compliance with the
                    agreements on nuclear disarmament and nuclear weapons
                    reduction adopted by the United States and Russia.

                    Despite flagrant violations of agreements, economic losses and
                    risks faced by Cuba, our government allowed the facility to stay
                    with no charge whatsoever for the services that our country
                    provided to Russia. This was the case for a certain period of
                    time only, given that there was no longer the slightest political or
                    ideological connection between Cuba and Russia. The leaders
                    of Russia had unilaterally destroyed all of the agreements
                    between the two countries. There was absolutely no reason left
                    to provide it with free services of any kind.

                    Russia’s reiterated interest in maintaining, expanding and
                    modernizing the Lourdes Electronic Radar Station, for the
                    reasons mentioned above, led to an agreement which included
                    payment to Cuba in Russian commodities or hard currency in
                    exchange for the services provided to the station. That payment
                    totaled 90 million dollars in 1992, 160 million from 1993 to
                    1995, and the 200 million mentioned by Army Commander
                    Anatoly Kvashnin from 1996 to 2000. This sum is not at all
                    extraordinary when one considers that it is barely 3% of the
                    damage caused to our country’s economy by the disintegration
                    of the socialist bloc and the USSR and the unilateral annulment
                    of all agreements. At the same time, Cuba benefited from some
                    of the information obtained related to our own country’s security.

                    The United States has relentlessly pressured Russia over the
                    existence of this facility, despite the fact that the United States
                    itself has maintained a military base in our territory for over 100
                    years now, against our people’s will.

                    During President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Cuba in December of
                    2000, the heads of state of our two countries spent several
                    hours at the station on December 14. Not a word was said
                    about its closure. On the contrary, there was talk of further
                    developing and modernizing it. President Putin literally said that
                    day; "Russia and Cuba are interested in continuing to foster its
                    activity. It has been fully functioning for some time, in
                    accordance with international standards and regulations. It has
                    done so successfully, and Russia and Cuba declare themselves
                    as countries interested in continuing to foster its activity."

                    At that time, only minor differences emerged between the
                    Cuban and Russian military authorities involved, since the
                    Russians desired to reduce, by a relatively small margin, the
                    economic compensation paid to Cuba. This had become
                    customary every year during the reviews of the Russian side’s
                    repeated failure to meet its obligations.

                    Months later, a curious change was observed in Russia’s policy
                    towards the Lourdes Electronic Radar Station. This took the
                    form of non-compliance with its financial obligations, resulting in
                    an accumulation of unfulfilled payments, and unjustifiable and
                    exaggerated demands for a reduction in the amount paid for
                    services rendered, despite the threefold increase in the price of
                    oil, one of Russia’s main exports, and an obvious improvement
                    in the Russian economy, reflected by the growth of its reserves
                    from some 12 billion dollars to over 30 billion, among other

                    It was at this stage that the current international crisis broke out,
                    creating considerable tension throughout the world. There had
                    been, at all times, contacts and fluid, friendly relations between
                    our two governments, despite the fact that they have adopted
                    rather different positions: Cuba is opposed to terrorism and
                    opposed to the war, while Russia has offered broad support
                    and cooperation for the war unleashed by the United States.
                    But, both fully agree on the fight against terrorism and the need
                    for the United Nations to play its role.

                    The negotiations we have been carrying out with regard to the
                    Lourdes Electronic Radar Station have yet to be concluded.
                    Yesterday, October 16, at 2:00 p.m., we had not reached an
                    agreement. A special envoy urgently proposed the closing of the
                    station. Our response was that this would be a most untimely
                    measure to adopt. At this very moment, the U.S. government’s
                    stance is more aggressive and belligerent than ever, many
                    countries are threatened in light of the U.S. president’s speech
                    on September 20, and military operations have already begun
                    in Afghanistan. Under such circumstances, the withdrawal of the
                    station would be a message and a concession to the
                    government of the United States, which would constitute a grave
                    threat to Cuba’s security, and therefore we were not in
                    agreement with its closure.

                    Just last night, we addressed the issue once again, putting
                    forward a great many arguments with the Russian envoy, who
                    had requested an urgent meeting. This envoy had brought
                    another message from the Russian president, proposing
                    something even worse: the advisability of publicly and
                    immediately declaring that the agreement on the Lourdes
                    Electronic Radar Station was cancelled. We responded that we
                    were in absolute disagreement, and proposed that they study
                    other options. We noted that they have a reputation for being
                    good chess players, and were therefore aware that there were a
                    hundred other moves they could make, and not just the one they
                    were proposing.

                    Russia’s urgency, it was explained, stemmed from their wish for
                    President Putin to meet President Bush at the Asia-Pacific
                    Cooperation Forum in Shanghai bearing these two pieces of
                    news. It is easy to understand how much they would please their
                    recipient: the one regarding Cam Ranh, although unimportant in
                    reality, is highly symbolic; the one concerning Cuba would be a
                    special gift.

                    Consequently, the agreement on the Lourdes Electronic Radar
                    Station has not been cancelled, since Cuba has not given its
                    approval. Russia shall continue negotiating with the Cuban
                    government, given that there are still important issues to resolve
                    with regard to the matter.

                    Unfortunately, perhaps President Putin, because of the time
                    difference, did not have a chance to hear our well-founded
                    arguments and suggestions on the matter in time, before
                    making his public announcement.

                    Still, Cuba holds him and the enormous State of Russia in great
                    esteem and deep respect.

                    For this reason, Cuba will refrain for the moment from making
                    any judgments or criticisms regarding what was announced
                    today by the press agencies. It will simply limit itself to offering
                    absolutely factual information to our people, and to hoping that
                    this disagreement can be resolved in a reasonable, fair and
                    honorable manner.

                    There is something that should be clearly understood by
                    everyone, and on which no one should entertain false illusions:
                    in Cuba there is not and there never will be either panic or fear.
                    This is the perfect atmosphere for serenity, cool-headed
                    wisdom, integrity, dignity, and unlimited courage.


                    The Government of the Republic of Cuba

                    Havana, October 17, 2001