"Russian combat aircraft could return to Cuba"
Для того, чтобы отправиться на Кубу, стратегическим бомбардировщикам нужен только приказ (фото: Владимир Смоляков)
MOSCOW, July 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russian combat aircraft could return to Cuba in a bid to counter U.S. plans to deploy a missile shield in Central Europe, a Russian daily reported on Monday.
Moscow has strongly opposed the possible deployment by the U.S. of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an accompanying radar in the Czech Republic as a threat to its national security. Washington says the defenses are needed to deter a possible strike from Iran, or other "rogue" states.
"While they are deploying the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, our strategic bombers will already be landing in Cuba," a high-placed military aviation source told the Izvestia newspaper.
Russia's Tu-160 (Blackjack) and Tu-95 (Bear) strategic bombers are both capable of reaching Cuba.
However, while the source admitted that the possibility of Russian bombers being stationed in Cuba was for now just a hypothetical possibility, he also noted that the rumors had not appeared from out of thin air.
At the same time, Leonid Ivashov, the former head of the Russian Defense Ministry's department for international cooperation, and currently president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, told Izvestia that Cuba could be used as a refueling stopover for Russian aircraft rather than as a permanent base.
In October 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis saw a tense standoff between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. when Soviet missiles were stationed in Cuba. As the world held its breath, President John F. Kennedy opted to launch a blockade of Cuba rather than invade, as some American military commanders wanted. The crisis was resolved after 12 days when the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, backed down and ordered the missiles removed.