Fidel Castro has revived memories of the Cuban missile crisis by
refusing to rule out the possibility of Russia constructing a new base
for its nuclear bombers on the island.
By Adrian Blomfield in Moscow
Last Updated: 10:47AM BST 25 Jul 2008
Reports in Moscow have claimed that the Russian air force is going to
resume flights of its long-range bombers to Cuba, six years after
military co-operation ceased between the two countries.
In a cryptic message posted on the internet yesterday, Mr Castro praised
his brother Raul, who inherited the presidency in February, for defying
pressure to explain Russia's military intentions in Cuba.
"Raul did very well keeping a dignified silence," he wrote. "One doesn't
have to give explanations or provide excuses or apologise."
The United States has warned Russia of serious repercussions if it went
ahead with the move, raising fears that Moscow and Washington were
potentially heading towards their most serious confrontation since 1962.
"We should stand strong and indicate that that is something that crosses
a threshold, crosses a red line for the United States of America," Gen
Norton Schwartz told a US Senate hearing called to confirm his
appointment as the US Air Force chief of staff.
Gen Schwartz's comments appeared to have enraged Mr Castro, who accused
the United States of imperial Machiavellianism and claimed that
Washington was bent on Cuba's destruction.
So far, the reports of a Russian presence on Cuba remain speculative,
with the Kremlin issuing a denial and the White House refusing to comment.
Even so, the speculation is mounting since Izvestia, often used to float
controversial Kremlin plans, quoted military sources as saying that the
proposal was in retaliation for US plans to build a missile defence
shield in central Europe, ostensibly against a nuclear strike by Iran.