Putin’s Buena Vista Social Club

Despite the steady stream of suggestive reports about Russia’s desire to regain a military presence in Cuba, here’s what a Cuban diplomat had to say about the matter:

However, a high-ranking Cuban diplomat said on Saturday that the Cuban leadership had no intention of resuming military cooperation with Russia, especially after the surprise closure of the Lourde’s listening post.

The electronic monitoring and surveillance facility near Havana at Torrens, also known as the Lourdes facility, the largest Russian SIGINT site abroad, was shut down in October 2001 by then-president Vladimir Putin.

“We were not even notified about the decision [by the Russian leadership],” the diplomat said.

Significantly, the decision to close the radar station was a goodwill gesture from Putin to Bush. With goodwill between the two in shorter supply these days, Russia is definitely trying to regain its influence in Latin America. But outside of Venezuela, that will probably be limited to reestablishing commercial and energy ties for the time being.