A report out of Russian media news Pravda quotes Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying that plans are underway to move strategic nuclear missiles to Cuba in response to the United States continuing efforts to encircle Russia and Eastern Europe. Whether the quotes attributed to the President are accurate or not remains to be seen. Pravda used to be the primary mouthpiece to the Soviet Communist Party but now the online versions is managed by former journalists of the original newspaper.
According to Pravda, after the G20 meeting with President Obama in June, Putin made a sudden harsh statement to the press:
“The Russian Federation has fulfilled all terms of the agreement. And even more. I shut down not only the Cuban Lourdes but also Kamran in Vietnam. I shut them down because I gave my word of honor. I, like a man, has kept my word. What have the Americans done? The Americans are not responsible for their own words. It is no secret that in recent years, the U.S. created a buffer zone around Russia, involving in this process not only the countries of Central Europe, but also the Baltic states, Ukraine and the Caucasus. The only response to this could be an asymmetric expansion of the Russian military presence abroad, particularly in Cuba,” the report quotes Putin as saying.
“With the full consent of the Cuban leadership, on May 11 of this year, our country has not only resumed work in the electronic center of Lourdes, but also placed the latest mobile strategic nuclear missiles “Oak” on the island. They did not want to do it the amicable way, now let them deal with this,” added Putin.
This quote is supposedly in response to the disclosure by the NATO summit in May that a new ballistic missile defense system had reached “interim operational capability” in Eastern Europe. This missile defense system was put in place due to the growing threat in Iran, not the Russians.
Moscow has made no secret of its opposition to the missile defense system. Russian generals have even gone as far as to threaten deployment of nuclear capable Iskander missiles against NATO defense sites.
“Moscow wants both formal assurances and an insight into the system’s parameters, to be confident that the US has no intention of degrading Russia’s own deterrent power, and that the NATO system has no capability against Russian strategic missiles. Washington’s reluctance to give either raises Moscow’s suspicions,” says Dmitri Trenin, Director of the Carnegie Center in Moscow and is one of Russia’s most acute strategic observers. “Russian threats are aimed at waking the European public’s to the dangers inherent in NATO’s missile defense plans if no agreement with Russia is reached”.
US officials have yet to officially resent the report. But given the severity of the Vladimir Putin’s quotes, the public won’t have to wait too long for Russian authorities to deny the quotes in the Pravda report.