Murphy's Law: November 21, 2001


Russian President Putin insisted at the start of this year that he would not close the signals intelligence station at Lourdes Cuba (the largest Russian intelligence post outside of Russia), but he reversed his decision on 17 October and said the station would be closed. The reason is primarily financial; Russia pays Cuba $200 million a year for the base, and can no longer afford it. Closing the station is expected to produce political benefits, in that President Bush had pressured Putin to close the facility. Congress threatened to withhold aid for Russia if Lourdes was not closed down. Russian generals objected to the closure, but agreed after Putin promised to add 2/3 of the money saved to the defense budget. Putin also said he would pull Russian forces out of the base at Cam Ranh Bay (Vietnam) since his Navy and Air Force rarely use it. They lack the money and fuel to operate that far from home.--Stephen V Cole


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