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Russia eyes Cuba for naval base site

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW — Russia hopes to establish its first naval base abroad since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union and is looking at Cuba, Vietnam and the Seychelles as possible locations, state-run RIA news agency quoted the navy chief as saying today.

Russia has been increasing the reach of its navy in recent years, sending warships further afield as part of an effort to restore pride project power in a world dominated by the US military.

“It’s true that we are continuing work on providing the navy with basing outside the Russian Federation,” RIA quoted Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkov as saying in an interview.

The Soviet Union had a large naval base in Communist ally Vietnam but post-Soviet Russia opted to vacate the Cam Ranh base in 2002, during President Vladimir Putin’s first Kremlin term, because rent payments were a burden on state coffers.

The fate of Russia’s only naval facility outside the former Soviet Union, a maintenance and supply facility in the Syrian port of Tartous, is uncertain because of the conflict in Syria.

Chirkov said Russia was “working out the issue of creating sites for material and technical support on the territory of Cuba, the Seychelles and Vietnam,” RIA reported.

Chirkov’s wording suggested facilities in those countries might be less extensive than full-scale naval bases. Navy officials could not immediately be reached for comment. (Reuters)

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