Russia flexed its muscles on the world stage this week by announcing increased cooperation with Iran on Syria, dispatching a new warship to the Mediterranean coast, and floating the idea of an “indefinite” military presence in Syria.
At the same time, the Russian Defense Ministry is talking about restoring its bases in Cuba and Vietnam, which have been shuttered since its military drawdown over a decade ago.
“The international affairs committee of Russia’s lower house of parliament recommended Thursday that the lawmaking body ratify Friday a motion to indefinitely base air force units in Syria,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Russians also delivered a fairly direct threat to the United States, suggesting that Russian anti-aircraft defenses could knock down any American warplanes sent to attack Syrian military positions.
Reuters reported on Friday that Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov teased plans to restore the signals intelligence base in Cuba and deepwater naval base in Vietnam, in keeping with its more assertive foreign policy.
“The global situation is not static, it is in flux, and the last two years have made significant changes to international affairs and security. Therefore, it’s quite natural that all countries assess these changes in line with their national interests and take certain steps in the way they consider appropriate,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with reporters.
Russia’s RT.com reports the former deputy head of foreign affairs for the Russian parliament, Aleksey Chepa, saying Moscow should “re-assess the issue of our presence in other regions of the world.”
“I believe that it would correspond with Russian interests to restore the bases in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa that were closed,” Chepa stated.
RT.com notes that while the government of Vietnam previous stated it would not allow any country to “use Cam Ranh Bay for military purposes” after Russia’s lease on its naval base ran out in 2004, a deal was signed between Hanoi and Moscow in 2014 that could make it possible for Russia to restore operations, with the simple requirement that Russia give prior notice to Vietnamese authorities before its warships enter the bay.
In another unsettling development, the UK Daily Mail reports the Russian government has been telling its people that nuclear war could be imminent, due to “schizophrenics from America sharpening atomic weapons for Moscow,” as the Defense Ministry put it.
Accordingly, Moscow just began marching 40 million people through A-bomb drills, stress-testing underground shelters designed to hold millions, in a three-day evacuation drill. The drill is nominally intended to help citizens and rescue workers deal with “large natural and man-caused disasters in the Russian federation.”