Russia bids farewell to Cuba

History repeats itself over and over again about Russia. “Russians, get out!”, - yelled the people of the Baltic countries in 1990. “Russians, go home,” - yelled the people in the Asian republics in 1991. “Russians, get out of Cuba!”, - were the screams in the capital of Cuba yesterday.

The demonstrations under anti-Russian slogans took place in Havana yesterday. This was the reaction of the Cuban population to the withdrawal of the Russian army base from Lourdes.

The reaction of the official Cuban authorities is not much different from what could be heard in the streets of Havana, although it was shaped in the smooth diplomatic forms. Cuba considered the withdrawal of the Russian army base to be “a special present” from Vladimir Putin to American President George W. Bush. This phrase says it all, Russia is called “American bootlicker,” insinuating with its recent enemy. The tone of the Cuban mass media is the same.

It seems that Russia has been deprived of not only the military base in the region but also of an ally. That base, by the way, received 75% of the entire military and strategic information on America. Russia does not now have a country with which we had good relations with before. A year ago, this seemed impossible. Putin toured all the allies of the former USSR, and it seemed that there was considerable progress in that respect. Putin visited the military base in Lourdes as well, the base that is now being shut down according to his own instructions. It is very surprising how Russia is making the relations with its allies null and void. The local population in the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia is protesting the withdrawal of the Russian troops, but the Russian soldiers are leaving the territory of the republic anyway. Cuba asks not to liquidate the army base, offering to revise the leasing conditions, but the base is being removed. What other reaction may follow?

Reuters photo : The secret Russian listening station at Lourdes some 30 km south of Havana is seen in this December 13, 2000 file photograph

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