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BBC Monitoring
Russian defence capability said unaffected by closure of bases abroad
Source: Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1600 gmt 17 Oct 01

[Correspondent] The Lourdes radioelectronic tracking centre was set up in Cuba in 1964. The centre now gathers military information which is used, first and foremost, to check agreements on arms control concluded between Russia and the USA. The centre can also intercept practically all telephone conversations and electronic messages on almost the entire territory of the USA. Russian politicians believe that changes in the military-political situation make it possible to close down the Cuban centre. They say the fact that it is very expensive played a crucial role in this decision. Russia pays 200m dollars a year rent for it.

[Anatoliy Kvashnin, chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces] We can spend 200m dollars on buying and launching to space 20 communications, intelligence and information satellites and buy up to 100 most modern radioelectronic tracking stations. That's the rent we pay, and it does not include money spent on personnel and military equipment in Cuba.

[Correspondent] The base in Cam Ranh in Vietnam is also to be closed down. Its withdrawal is to begin on 1 January 2002. The Cam Ranh centre of military-technical support for the navy is the only naval base in southeast Asia. The base is to be abandoned also for economic reasons. Its maintenance cost is the same as the cost of a nuclear submarine equipped with modern weapons. Russian military leaders believe that the closure of these two major bases will not affect the country's defence capability.

[Kvashnin] These measures will make it possible to significantly increase combat readiness without scaling down the implementation of tasks in connection with the country's defence capability ...

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