Russia closes spying center in Cuba

The Russian military has completed the withdrawal of equipment fromRussia's electronic intelligence center in Lourdes, Cuba. It has taken twoweeks and about 10 flights of heavy-lifting An-124 Ruslan militarytransport planes to bring the bulky equipment back to Russia, a DefenseMinistry official was quoted as saying. Defense Minis1try and air forceofficials refused to comment on the report.President Vladimir Putin ordered to close the Lourdes base last Octoberalong with a naval base in Vietnam in what the Kremlin described as acost-cutting measure. The decision to abandon the outposts, both symbols ofthe Soviet Union's Cold War global era, was also seen as part of Putin'sefforts to build warmer relations with the West.The move has irked the leadership of communist Cuba, which criticizedMoscow for failing to consult with it before ordering the withdrawal andaccused it of caving in to the United States. Putin's decision was alsocriticized by some Russian lawmakers, who said the Kremlin was throwingaway important strategic assets, the Russia Journal reported..

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