Washington is deeply concerned about an opportunity for Russia to use Cuban air bases to deploy its strategic bombers there in response to US missile defense plans in Europe. Gen. Norton Schwartz stated that Russia would be crossing a red line with such an intention.
"I certainly would offer best military advice that we should engage the Russians not to pursue that approach," Schwartz told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"And if they did, I think we should stand strong and indicate that that is something that crosses a threshold, crosses a red line for the United States of America."
Russia’s Izvestia newspaper reported this week that Moscow was considering an opportunity for strategic bombers to fly to Cuba in response to USA’s intentions to deploy the missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Russian strategic aircraft Tu-160 (known as the White Swan) and Tu-95MS can technically reach Cuba. It was even said that they had already landed on the Island of Freedom.
It goes without saying that the USA has its own eyes and ears on the island – the Guantanamo base. Therefore, if Russian bombers had landed in Cuba, the international scandal would have happened already.
Lieutenant-General Leonid Ivashov, the former chairman of the International Cooperation Department of the Russian Defense Ministry, stated that Cuba did not need Russian bombers for constant deployment, although Russia could still use Cuba as a refueling base for nuclear-capable bombers.
Ivashov believes that Cuba would not mind Russia deploying its electronic surveillance posts on the Lourdes radar base, which was closed in 2001. The official reminded that the facility was previously used for the prevention of nuclear attacks during the Soviet era.
Russia ’s military and transport aircraft perform frequent commercial flights to Cuba nowadays.
“The possible deployment of the Russian strategic aviation in Cuba could be a very good response to USA’s plans to deploy NATO bases near Russia’s borders,” Russia’s former Air Force Commander, Pyotr Deinekin said.
“I do not see anything biased about it, because the USA treats Russia as nobody when it decides to station its air bases and radar posts in close proximity to Russian borders,” the general said.
“Russian strategic bombers can patrol the US coastline for about 1.5 hours, refuel and return back to Russia,” the official said.
Deinekin reminded that Russia, as the successor of the USSR, already has the experience of performing long-distance flights and deploying Soviet troops in Cuba.
The long-distance aviation of the Soviet Union performed patrolling flights near USA’s shores in the beginning of the 1980s, when US deployed ground-launched cruise missiles in the south of Britain, in the north of Italy and in Western Germany. In addition, Soviet strategic bombers regularly patrolled geographically remote areas.
All those flights were ceased in 1992 due to the lack of fuel, the withdrawal of Russian troops from former allied republics and the destruction of the national long-distance aviation system.
The US Department of State has not commented on a possibility for Russian strategic bombers to return to Cuba yet. The Department needs first to find out the position of the US government on the matter.