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BBC Monitoring
USA should reciprocate for closure of Russia's foreign bases, says analyst
Source: Russian Public TV (ORT), Moscow, in Russian 1700 gmt 17 Oct 01

[Presenter ] The military are already planning where to spend the money saved on the leasing of the bases [at Cam Ranh in Vietnam and Lourdes in Cuba]. Political analysts are predicting what Russia can expect to gain in the international arena as a result of its decision. Anton Vernitskiy has more on this.

[Vernitskiy] Not counting its military bases in the former Soviet republics, Russia had three military bases in the rest of the world - one in Syria, which was - and remains - not really a base, more a logistical staging post - docking facilities, basically - for the navy. [A map shown at this point identifies the Syrian base as Tartus.] The other two bases, whose closure was announced by the president today, are the tracking station at Lourdes on Cuba and the large military base at Cam Ranh in Vietnam.

The Cam Ranh base has been used by our country since 1979. The lease on the base - which includes a runway for all types of planes, berthing facilities for large warships and technical structures - was due to expire in 2004. But the base has been virtually unused of late. The simple fact that, according to unofficial reports, only 40 people looked after the huge base area was evidence of this.

The tracking station on Cuba, located in Lourdes, a Havana suburb - this is a photograph of the centre taken from a US spy satellite - was used more actively than the base in Vietnam. Up to 3,000 military intelligence specialists worked here in Soviet times, in more recent times - again according to unofficial reports - about 1,000. Vladimir Putin even met them during his visit to Cuba last year.

[Director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategy and Technology, Ruslan Pukhov, captioned] This base enabled us to gather radioelectronic intelligence from almost half of the USA. It produced a huge quantity of information which can be used for both military and general commercial purposes. About 3bn dollars has been invested in this base, in its maintenance, modernization and lease, over the past 10 years of reform.

[Vernitskiy] As for the reasons why Russia is closing the military bases on Cuba and in Vietnam, the first and most obvious reason is, as officials say, the need to save money and make rational use of military resources.

[Russian CGS Anatoliy Kvashnin] The annual rent for the radar centre on Cuba is 200m dollars. With 200m dollars we can purchase 20 communications, intelligence and information-gathering satellites and launch them into space and also order and purchase up to 100 of the latest radar stations from industry.

[Vernitskiy] That is how the CGS commented on the president's decision. Military experts have a slightly different view of the president's moves.

[President of the Institute of Strategic Studies Aleksandr Konovalov, captioned] President Bush has often spoken of late of the need for the partners, Russia and the USA, to replace the system of bilateral arms control treaties with a system of reciprocal, unilateral moves and declarations. What President Putin has done today is a political breakthrough. It is, unquestionably, a unilateral move and a very important move. This is a brilliant opportunity for President Bush to reciprocate. He could, for instance, respond to the closure of our base at Cam Ranh, to the closure of the tracking station on Cuba, by ending the use of the Vardoe radar station in Norway, which is very close to our border.

[Vernitskiy] At all events, Vladimir Putin and George Bush are due to hold a face-to-face meeting in Shanghai shortly.

This is Anton Vernitskiy, Nikolay Ryazantsev, Yuriy Gvozd and Sergey Grigoryan reporting for ORT.

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