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Russia to Revive Cold War Spy Base Near Florida, Kommersant Says

July 16 (Bloomberg) -- Russia is set to reclaim a Cold War- era eavesdropping outpost in Cuba, its only intelligence- gathering center in the Western Hemisphere before the hub was shut down more than a decade ago, Kommersant reported.

Russia and Cuba reached an “agreement in principle” during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Havana five days ago, the Moscow-based newspaper said, citing unidentified Russian officials familiar with the plans. No one was immediately available for comment at the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, where the Russian Defense Ministry referred all questions.

The complex, located about 250 kilometers (155 miles) off the Florida coast and more than 10,000 kilometers from Moscow, was closed in 2002 because of a lack of funds to pay the $200 million annual fee to lease the base, according to Kommersant. The accord was reached as Russia agreed to write off 90 percent, or almost $32 billion, of Cuba’s Soviet-era debt.

Russia ended military cooperation with the Caribbean island in 2002 after closing the radar base, which was established in 1964 after the crisis with the U.S. over Soviet nuclear missiles installed on Cuban territory. After meetings with Raul and Fidel Castro on July 11, Putin said Russia plans to install a ground station for its Glonass satellite navigation system in Cuba.

Locked in the standoff over Ukraine, ties between Russia and the U.S. are their lowest ebb since the end of the Cold War. The two powers have also clashed on issues ranging from the civil war in Syria to Russia’s temporary asylum for Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor indicted for espionage in the U.S.

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