As the U.S. military acts on plans to deploy units to the very borders of Russia in its expansion plans within NATO, Russia is stating its intention to set up military bases and conduct massive arms sales in Latin America and other strategic locations.
According to Russian press RIA Novosti, Sergei Shoigu – Russian Defense Minister – stated that Russia will build military bases in Vietnam, Cuba (located only 90 miles from the U.S.), Venezuela, Nicaragua, the Seychelles, Singapore and several other countries, noting, “The talks are under way, and we are close to signing the relevant documents.” Voxxi.com reports that a Russian military vessel has already docked at a Havana naval base this week.
The Russian newspaper reported that only one naval base currently exists outside of the former Soviet Union – in Tartus, Syria – but because of the ongoing civil war there, its fate is uncertain.
Russian president Vladimir Putin is shifting gears to close allies within Asia and the Western Hemisphere aiming to project power and improve Russia’s image abroad by gaining navy ports in the regions as well as the ability to refuel Russian bombers at their own air bases. According to WND sources, due to its relative economic and political stability, Putin’s focus will be on Nicaragua, of particular concern to neighboring Costa Rica.
Nicaragua’s government under President Daniel Ortega has friendly relations with Russia, which has donated some military equipment to Nicaragua’s forces and has participated in some training exercises. This mobilization has alarmed other Central American countries; Enrique Castillo, Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister, worries that “It’s part of the plan of intimidation that Nicaragua is pushing in the region, arming themselves with the most modern weapons and equipment.”
Castillo already indicated that his government has little trust in Nicaragua. Russia’s installation of a military base could upset the balance of power in the region, enabling Nicaragua to coerce its neighbors.
If Putin is successful in setting up bases in Venezuela where tensions are already running high, it is yet unclear how anti-government protestors or a new government would ultimately react, despite long held amiable relations between Russia and both current and former Presidents Nicolas Maduro and Hugo Chavez, respectively.
Moscow’s planned expansion abroad could dramatically challenge U.S. policies and weaken American influence in those parts of the world, while endangering U.S. homeland defenses against potential missile threats. In the Gulf of Mexico, America is not adequately protected against missile attacks originating from the south, and Russia’s deployment of missile-bearing nuclear submarines in the Southern Hemisphere poses an additional formidable threat, WND previously reported.
The U.S. has identified Asia as the most important region for its national security in future years. If Washington continues to muscle in on countries that Moscow views as vital to its security, Putin will be better positioned to frustrate U.S. objectives in those locales.
The Obama Administration seems to be doing little to address these growing risks, since announcing the end of the Monroe Doctrine, a 19th century declaration which would have required U.S. intervention on any efforts made by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America, deeming these an act of aggression.
When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the Organization of American States in Washington last November, he announced, “The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over. … The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will intervene in the affairs of other American states.”
Kerry likely did not take into account the invitations extended by countries within the Western Hemisphere to U.S. adversaries, allowing them to set up military bases there, when he spoke during his speech to potential threats from European powers, stating, “We should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere.”
Experts have recognized the dangers of Putin’s plans, including former Strategic Defense Initiative Director Ambassador Henry Cooper, and have urged the U.S. to deploy existing Aegis missile defense systems in the southern portion of the country. When they are launched from either U.S. Navy ships or from shore, Aegis missiles can intercept orbiting nuclear weapons, but the risk of an EMP event (electromagnetic pulse) would increase due to the resulting high-altitude explosion.
Notwithstanding the EMP events potentially caused by U.S. counter attacks on nuclear weapons fired by enemy nations, a terrorist EMP attack on U.S. soil coming from such a high-altitude explosion, could take out the vulnerable U.S. electrical grid and destroy other critical infrastructures on which America depends. The effects of such an attack can last months or years, and could potentially kill up to 90 percent of the U.S. population due to starvation and lack of medical care.
Russian expert Stephen Blank of the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation reveals that Putin is looking to Brazil to buy fighter aircraft and surface-to-air missile systems. “Little doubt remains that Moscow believes that the region of Latin America can play a growing role in world affairs and has expanding mutual interests with Russia to check U.S. power,” Blank says.
“If successful, this would mark a step toward creating a group of industrialized countries that employ Russian designs and design bureaus for creating their own military hardware, thereby making the Russian defense sector more secure, pervasive and particularly significant in high tech areas,” Blank summarized.
Other analysts have suggested that Russia’s aim to position itself in Nicaragua and Cuba – both Russian allies during the Cold War – may highlight Putin’s motivations to demonstrate to the U.S. Russia’s broadening military alliances overseas, a move seen as more bark than bite.
Viewing these announcements as “Russian diplomatic spin at its best”, thediplomat.com sees Russia’s threats as largely hollow, believing that Moscow is likely only gaining some greater access rights to make port calls, refuel, and possibly make repairs to its military equipment. Since Russia has previously announced its desire for greater port access in many of these same places, the online publication deems these latest revelations as more reiteration in the face of current Ukraine events.
“It is almost certainly not building actual Russian military bases in most of these countries,” asserted the current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region, using Russia’s potential re-access to Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay port as an example, emphasizing that it will likely not command the port exclusively as it once did, and that the U.S. could also re-gain some access to the port.
In the coming years, there may be a significant tapering off of the oil and natural gas export revenues that Russia’s economy almost exclusively depends on, as demand growth from emerging markets ebbs and new supply sources come out of North America.
While Russian state-run newspapers carry daily reports of grandiose future plans for Putin’s military modernization, will these strategies actually come to pass, or will Russia run out of economic steam before its new vessels, aircraft and missiles get close enough to American soil to make good on its threat? The coming weeks may reveal more details of Russia’s negotiations and just how close they are going to come to US soil.