MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is considering plans to restore military bases in Vietnam and Cuba that had served as pivots of Soviet global military power during the Cold War, Russian news agencies quoted Russian Deputy Defence Minister Nikolai Pankov as saying on Friday.
“We are dealing with this issue,” the agencies quoted Pankov as saying in Russia’s parliament.
Russia lowered its flag at the Lourdes signals intelligence base in Cuba and the deepwater Cam Rahn naval base in Vietnam in the early 2000s as part of a drawing down of Russia’s military presence around the world after the demise of the Soviet Union.
But since then, Moscow’s foreign policy has become more assertive, leading to tensions with the United States and its allies over, among other issues, the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, and the presence of NATO troops in eastern Europe.
Pankov said the Defence Ministry was currently “rethinking” past decisions on closure of the bases, but declined to go into detail. Vietnam’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Cuban officials were not available.
The United States is in the process of reviving its relations with Cuba, which in Soviet times had offered Moscow its closest military installation to U.S. territory, less than 100 km (60 miles) from the Florida Keys.
“The global situation is not static, it is in flux, and the last two years have made significant changes to international affairs and security,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters.
“Therefore, it’s quite natural that all countries assess these changes in line with their national interests and take certain steps in the way they consider appropriate.”
(The story corrects “100 miles” to “100 km” in paragraph six)
Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Christian Lowe and Ralph Boulton