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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The re-establishment of Russian military bases abroad must be justified strategically

In Russian politics returned to the theme of recreating the former Soviet military bases in Africa, South America and Asia. The time to do this, select the appropriate: a geopolitical confrontation with the United States is at its peak, not seen since Soviet times. But how adequately such a proposal and whether it is justified?

Deputy Chairman of the Duma Committee on international Affairs Alexei chepa made a proposal to revive the former Soviet military bases abroad. “The national interests served through the restoration of previously closed our military bases in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa,” said the MP, adding that this is necessary to prevent “military action against friendly Nations from external forces.” “Russia is the guarantor of human rights, unlike the United States, which contain more than 650 military bases in order to establish geopolitical control over the world’s space,” says Chepe.

“Establishment of naval bases in the Caribbean Bay is a much more responsible idea. We can talk about building infrastructure for basing of submarines, and not necessarily strategic missile”

Earlier, the press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov has told about the reasons why the question was raised about the possible restoration of the Russian military bases in Cuba and Vietnam. Before that, Deputy defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said that the Ministry of defence dealing with the issue of the possible return of these bases.

The subtlety of context

The proposal Alexei Chepa there are certain time and personal contexts that require their implementation and separation from the need of expansion of Russian military presence outside of Russia. If this is not done, there will be many questions asked to the idea of creating a new database and resuscitation of old that could eventually affect the implementation of the project.

First, the proposal was announced on the eve of the vote on the law of the indefinite placement in Syria, the Russian military contingent. This is the first legislative act that approved the new composition of the Duma, and thereby legitimized the already existing Russian-Syrian agreement on the indefinite use of the air base Hamim and “point of supply of the Navy” in Tartus. These agreements are valid for a year, but required further parliamentary approval in a new form, which confirms the right of Russia to use these objects on the territory of Syria in the interests of defense of the Russian Federation for an indefinite term and subject to supplementary agreements with the government in Damascus. There are a lot of purely legal parts, which required parliamentary approval from both Russia and from Syria. This is the legal status of military personnel, their jurisdiction, allocation of responsibilities and funding, and many other necessary aspects, usually not visible for those who only looks after reports of fighting. In this context, the proposal of the Deputy Chairman of one of the two relevant committees of the Duma (the second for defense and security) appears appropriate and timely. People decided to the place to broaden and deepen the proposal, which long ago was in the air.

But, secondly, Alexey chepa has mentioned in his statement all the inhabited continents of the world except Australia, which greatly expanded his proposal, moving it beyond the concept of “former Soviet base”. At its peak, the USSR in third world official bases abroad was not so much. In addition to the Syrian Tartus, was the object of electronic surveillance in Cuba (put a checkmark in the position of “Latin America”) and two supply point, the air force and Navy in Vietnam (tick the “Southeast Asia”). Some time (but not for long) there were so-called fishing port on the island of Socotra, which belonged in those days the now-defunct people’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. In different periods of Soviet troops (officially and not) were located in Ethiopia, in the same southern Yemen on the continent and in Angola. It is worth emphasizing: we’re talking about a long deployment on the basis of official intergovernmental treaties and not the on-time arrival of military advisers, for example, in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Indonesia, Mozambique, Somalia and even Morocco (was a little-known fact), but forget about Afghanistan.

Chepa made this statement in formal accordance with the position, but from the point of view of ideological support this project it would be possible to choose another shape. The current Deputy Chairman of the state Duma Committee on international Affairs of the “Fair Russia” (one of the richest of its representatives, by the way) is famous for including its commercial projects in Angola (at the same time he works and Chairman of the Fund of friendship and cooperation with Angola) and in several countries that were in the 70-80-ies in the orbit of Soviet and Chinese influence in black Africa – Namibia, Congo, Mozambique and even in South Africa. If a proposal to expand the Russian military presence on other continents were made by people who do not have personal commercial interests in countries that could theoretically adopt a new Russian base proposal it would benefit. And it is very difficult to turn away from thinking about lobbying and the lack of experience of parliamentary and unofficial works are able to discredit any good idea. Chepe didn’t have to start their parliamentary work with such a straightforward statement, it would be possible to assign “right of first words” another member or even the media without reference to yourself, a loved one.

Now you need to separate all this from the context of really working on the question of increasing the Russian military presence abroad in order to ensure security and national interests of the Russian Federation and its allies.

America and Europe

Over the last decade, there were three projects of creation of Russian military bases in the far abroad of nowhere. The most promising was considered a project supply bases for the air force and the Navy in Venezuela and Nicaragua. Russian strategic bombers aircraft several times made very long flights to Venezuela, and ships have repeatedly docked at the port in the Caribbean. Loud conducted joint exercises in the air and the ocean. Living with Hugo Chavez and a more stable economic situation, this project was quite feasible, but there was still the question of its appropriateness. The placement of aviation in Latin America clearly would have been seen in the US as the “new Caribbean crisis” and so now saying all American TV channels. But it’s not even that, but the fact that such a database (or even just – “airfield”) were too vulnerable and would require serious infrastructure of the defense, as now in Syria. This project looks attractive only from the point of view of a school globe, and the principle of “from here we will face”, but in practice requires much more serious consideration than it is possible to imagine a narrow-minded point of view. For example, in Venezuela, not enough productive capacity for fuel and will have to bring your own (remember the blockade of Cuba), or even to lay new pipelines to the airfields. And basing in Venezuela five or six bombers more strategic advantages will add – the Americans just moving to Texas and new Mexico several divisions ABOUT. So we will provide growth in orders in the American military-industrial complex, increase the number of jobs in Albuquerque and Clinton voters in the southern States, and Venezuela will apply for the role of a strategic ally that will require Moscow to assume additional political and military commitments. This is despite the fact that the territorial problem with Colombia is still not resolved and will never be solved (special thanks to bolívar and Sucre).

But the creation of naval bases in the Caribbean Bay is a much more responsible idea. We can talk about building infrastructure for basing of submarines, and not necessarily strategic bombers. A major international crisis (if we are talking about the strategy) will require, for example, blocking of the Panama canal, and for this ideal base it on Nicaragua. Another thing is that these ports there is simply no need to build them out of nowhere. But now there is even a fantastic project for a new canal through Nicaraguan territory, so anything is possible.

The second such project was rolled after the parliamentary elections in Argentina, the negotiations on the supply of air force and Navy in Puerto Valdivia. The idea is identical: based on the largest naval base in Argentina would block the Strait of Magellan in the case of the strategic conflict. But after the defeat of Cristina Kirchner is already impossible project, and Argentina’s interest in the executed Kirchner was pragmatic – she wanted a “big brother”, which you can hide in the conflict with the British around the Falkland Islands. The strategic benefit of Russia, the implementation of such a project would have looked quite so “strategic” is still the prospect of a global confrontation with the necessity of the struggle for the main point of the World ocean looks less realistic than the resumption of the struggle for the Falklands. And “fit for a sister” would have.

“The third project was the most closed and more political than military: Montenegro offered a unique financial conditions for the establishment of a Russian naval base in the Bar”

The third project was the most closed and more political than military. Montenegro offered a unique financial conditions for the establishment of a Russian naval base in the Bar. It also was about the supply and maintenance of submarines, which would ensure Russian presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, in addition to Tartous. These talks started long before the acute phase of the Syrian crisis and was of a more political and strategic in nature than purely military. Funding base and its infrastructure could be an alternative to membership of Montenegro in NATO, especially as the Alliance Podgorica offers special financial benefits in connection with that political choice. Upgrading a tiny army to the standards of the Alliance – not an argument that can seriously be interested in the budget. But this diplomatic battle was lost, and the leadership of Montenegro imposed on his people the path of rapprochement with NATO, taking advantage of active support for Pro-us NGOs, and the liberal part of the intelligentsia (including Serbian). The upcoming parliamentary elections is unlikely that anything will change, but now the number of local and Serbian media announce a possible “intervention of Russia” and fear of “Pro-Russian Maidan.”

Africa and Asia

The old Soviet base – electronic tracking system in Lourdes in Cuba and a base of support in Vietnam – those projects that call now on more attention. The General staff should assess the condition of equipment in Lourdes-if it is even there. At the time, the presence in Cuba has been minimized, and obsolete electronic equipment was collected. The appropriateness of the presence there also have to be assessed separately. The American system of wiretapping and the monitoring of the air subordinate to the NSA, located in Texas and seek to Colombia with Venezuela. Question: how safe is the equipment in Cuba high-tech electronic systems that will be required to provide their battery life? We are not talking about financial cost, namely, the security of such a base, given the potential penetration in Cuba, American agents, and the apparent geographical and technological superiority of the US in their “backyard”. Perhaps this problem is solvable, but the point is not to necessarily something to put in Cuba, and that it was of some use. It could be the early warning systems missile attack, but it is difficult technologically, although not as expensive as, say, in the far North. This is a matter for the assessment of strategic risks, and again we must remember that the Russian Federation is still – distant theatres of war in which a lone object, just a big goal. You want to re-think about air and missile defense, and that will cause a hysterical reaction in Washington, and not the fact that the current Cuban leadership will go to such a large-scale deployment of Russian military facilities.

Now base in Vietnam. They already in fact exist, but require conversion and legal support. Another thing is that in the developing conflict over the Spratly Islands Russia got a choice. Philippines also look promising venue, but there will have to consider China’s interest, which may outweigh all the strategic arguments about the establishment of bases in South-East Asia.

Finally, promising options in Black Africa. Angola – an oil-producing country, the key position of Russia which has seriously deteriorated since 1991 (let’s forget about MP Chepe, whose commercial interests associated with the fisheries, and hence with the ports). Over the past decade go back to the historical influence of Portugal, up to the repatriation of many white Portuguese left in the 70s – after the victory of the national liberation movement, supported by the Soviet Union. And now our position in Angola is weaker than in South Africa, which is, even in nuclear and space sector.

Reconnaissance satellites of the army of Africa, in fact, controlled by Russia, the information first enters in Vatutinki and only then, after processing, transferred to Johannesburg and Saldanha. Function and joint centers of space information, and the degree of Russian influence in the old nuclear center of the Republic of South Africa is difficult to assess due to the lack of adequate information from Pretoria. However, in this situation to talk about the possibility and expediency of creating any full-fledged military bases would be premature. It is not only a difficult domestic political situation, which does not guarantee long-term basis of such relationships. The main competitor of Russia in the region has long been the same China, which does not claim a physical presence, but in the daily routine oppresses and Russian business, and our political positions. In the dialogue with China on Africa is always present the element of the “old regime” division of spheres of influence in which enjoy playing the local elite. In the last couple of years seems to have been a consensus with Beijing about the infamous “section” in economic terms, but the Russian military ships can come in Saldanha, it does not require the creation of some special infrastructure on the Syrian principle. Another thing is that the naval infrastructure of South Africa during the years of the ANC went into decline, and even to support the base in Saldanha, will require serious financial investments, which are expected by Pretoria, but not the fact that they strategically will pay off for Russia. That is the Russian military interests in the region may be achieved without the additional presence of the Grand opening of new military bases and concluding far-reaching agreements. Everything can be done quietly, without attracting special attention.

A different story: the supply of Russian civilian targets in Antarctica, which are traditionally based in Cape town and partly in Argentina. In connection with the loss of positions in Argentina, the role of South Africa. But it’s a bilateral issue not related to military presence.

The dry residue

Thus, the idea of expanding Russian military presence abroad needs to be further clarified. Just stick the base on the planet – the idea is attractive to schools, and mentioned 650 American bases in this sense is not an excuse. Some of them no more than supply points, other local airports, leased to the strange conditions and with the presence of a few staff support. Although the overall picture is, of course, threatening.

But strategically is now much more dangerous are attempts by the US to establish presence in the Arctic than their remote bases, for example, in Latin America. However, for example, the notorious base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian ocean is indeed Russian defense strategic threat, as equipped specifically to provide a strategic missile, so arranges launches on the territory of the Russian Federation from a distant region that requires the presence of a special missile defense system in the South, including through the Russian base in Tajikistan.

If to speak about creation of complete system of the Russian presence in strategic regions, required to assess not only risks but also feasibility of the creation of an object. The political component is one thing, military expediency is quite another. And these two principles must be combined.


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