'Russian Missiles in Cuba & Venezuela': What's Behind Moscow's Hardball Rhetoric?
18:40 GMT 19.01.2022 (Updated: 10:38 GMT 29.03.2023)
The Kremlin remarks about the possible deployments of Russian military assets in Cuba and Venezuela are highlighting the seriousness of the unfolding situation to Washington, says former Reagan administration official Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, adding that the entire problem could be solved by providing Russia with security guarantees.
Russia is exploring options to ensure its security, said Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Monday, not ruling out deployments of Russian missiles in Cuba and Venezuela if the US and NATO neglect Moscow's concerns and go on with a military build-up on Russia's doorstep.
Last week, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who led the Russian delegation in 10 January talks with the US in Geneva, told RTVI TV that he would "neither confirm nor exclude" the possibility that Russia could send military assets to the two Latin American nations in case negotiations with the US and NATO fail and the alliance's expansion continues. Commenting on Ryabkov's remark, the White House denounced it as "bluster," adding that if Russia started moving in that direction, the US would deal with it "decisively."
Did US Learn Cuban Missile Crisis Lesson Right & Could Moscow and Washington Avert Its Repetition?
11 December 2021, 14:00 GMT
Cuban Missile Crisis 2.0?
The Kremlin has long exercised self-restraint and responded diplomatically to the West's provocations, but "has realised that there are hostile intentions behind the growing ring of military bases around Russia and that this has to be stopped if Russia is to be an independent country," says Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, ex-assistant secretary of the treasury under Ronald Reagan and former member of the Cold War Committee on the Present Danger.
"Russia is correct that security has to be mutual," Dr. Roberts notes. "The Kremlin has made it clear that Russia is not going to permit her security to be further impaired. Peskov's mention of possible Russian deployments in Cuba and Venezuela is intended to call to mind that today the Kremlin feels as threatened as the Kremlin felt in early 1960s because of US missiles placed in Turkey. The consequence of the US action was to bring Russian missiles to Cuba, a dangerous situation that Kennedy and Khrushchev resolved by removing missiles from Turkey and Cuba."
10 December 2021, 13:10 GMT
On 9 September 1962, Soviet ballistic missiles were delivered to Cuba within the framework of the USSR's secret Operation Anadyr. The US had been unaware for a whole month that Soviet rockets had already been deployed in the Caribbean nation.
Operation Anadyr came in response to the US botched invasion of Cuba and the deployment of intermediate-range "Jupiter" nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey, beginning in 1961, by the John Kennedy administration.
"From there, the [US] missiles could reach all of the western USSR, including Moscow and Leningrad (and that doesn’t count the nuclear-armed 'Thor' missiles that the US already had aimed at the Soviet Union from bases in Britain)," wrote American journalist Benjamin Schwarz in his 2013 op-ed "The Real Cuban Missile Crisis" for The Atlantic.
The Cuban Missile Crisis lasted from 16 October 1962 to 28 October 1962 and was resolved after then-President Kennedy agreed to dismantle all of the Jupiter MRBMs, deployed in Turkey against the USSR, in exchange for the removal of Soviet nuclear missiles from the Caribbean nation.
"Despite lessons learned, the US is replaying this scenario and the Kremlin is objecting," Dr. Roberts says. "If Cuba and Venezuela are willing, there is nothing to stop Russia putting missiles in those countries. However, I do not think Peskov is doing anything but emphasising to Washington the seriousness of the situation. Russia can just as easily station its new hypersonic missiles on surface ships or submarines off the US Atlantic and Pacific coasts."
Dr. Roberts notes that at this point the Kremlin is "trying to convey to Washington that in the absence of a security guarantee, the situation will worsen into a confrontational crisis."
Are 'Spheres of Influence' Really a Thing of the Past?
Meanwhile, the White House's warning of "decisive" actions in case Russia deploys its assets in Cuba and Venezuela seems to be in contradiction with Secretary of State Antony Blinken's remark that "spheres of influence" is an idea "that should have been retired after World War II."
Furthermore, in 2013 then-Secretary of State John Kerry declared the end of the Monroe Doctrine in a speech to the Organisation of American States (OAS). Under the Monroe Doctrine, a US policy initiated by President James Monroe in 1823, Washington regarded Western Hemisphere as its own backyard.
"When Washington says 'spheres of influence' are a thing of the past, Washington means that no one but Washington has spheres of influence," says Dr. Roberts. "In other words, it is an assertion of US hegemony."
He highlights that the entire problem "can be avoided simply by giving Russia the security guarantee." In mid-December 2021, Moscow sent its draft security agreements to Washington. Russia's proposals include legally binding guarantees of NATO's non-expansion eastward, Ukraine's non-admission to the Western military bloc and pull-out of the bloc's forces from member states that have joined it since 1997, among other measures.
18 January 2022, 12:00 GMT
American and European observers have previously noted that Ukraine's NATO membership is "big if" given that Germany and France have repeatedly opposed it. Meanwhile, NATO troops currently deployed in post-Soviet republics and former Warsaw states serve as an irritant rather than actual "deterrence" to Russia, according to them.
"Refusal to give the guarantee indicates intended hostile action against Russia by Washington," Dr. Roberts suggests. "Why else refuse a security guarantee?"
Although Russia's talks with the US, NATO and OSCE have not brought immediate solutions, mutual consultations will continue. US Secretary of State Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due to meet in Geneva on 21 January, according to the US State Department. Earlier, Blinken would hold meetings with Ukrainian and German officials on 19 January and 20 January, respectively.