MOSCOW, July 16 (RIA Novosti)
Russia and Cuba have agreed on returning a Soviet intelligence facility in Lourdes near Havana to Russia for use, Kommersant business daily wrote Wednesday.
The USSR's largest electronic intelligence facility allowed it to control radio and telephone connections over a large territory of the “potential enemy.” Moscow gave it up in 2001, satisfying a request from Washington. But the United States "did not appreciate our 'gesture of goodwill,'" one of the paper's sources said.
Trying to strengthen level of ground intelligence, Moscow began talks with Havana about taking back the facility several years ago but has become more active since the beginning of the year, the paper's sources said. The issue was resolved within months and was finalized during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Cuba last week.
Russia does not plan to restore the center to its previous capacity, and is still working out the details and costs of the restoration.
Last week, Putin signed a law writing off 90 percent of Cuba’s $32 billion Soviet-era debt to Russia ahead of his official visit to Latin America, with the first stop in Cuba.
Cuba remains one of Russia’s key allies in the region, with trade between the two nations topping $200 million last year.
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The British experience can be instructive for Russia. London retains its British Commonwealth if it wants to use this as a foundation for integration in the future. That’s a valuable lesson for Russian experts who are calling for an end to “ineffective” associations like the CIS, the Russian World and others.