Russia said on Wednesday that its air force will recommence regular air patrols over the Caribbean, after winding down such long-range missions at the end of the Cold War, the BBC reported. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said, "Under the prevailing circumstances we need to ensure a military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans, the waters of the Caribbean basin and the Gulf of Mexico."

He also said he had approved "an action plan to improve the condition of our long-range aviation technology, which provides for its repair and servicing at industrial facilities".

Earlier this year, Shoigu said Russia was planning military bases in a number of foreign countries, including Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Negotiations included the option for Russian strategic bombers to refuel whilst on patrol, he said.

In July, following reports that Russia and Cuba had agreed to reopen a signals intelligence (SIGINT) base in Lourdes, Cuba, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied such plans.

However, according to a US intelligence source, the denial by Putin may have been an attempt to dial back the importance of the issue so that it would not form part of the negotiating equation when and if the Russians have to come to the table over its expansion into the Ukraine and associated economic sanctions.

The base in Lourdes, which was primarily used to spy on US communications and missile launches during the Cold War, was closed in 2001, partly as a result of US financial pressure following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Member countries of regional blocs such as CELAC and ALBA, which are generally opposed to US hegemony in the Americas, are likely to welcome the continued show of Russian military, political and economic involvement in the Western Hemisphere.

Caribbean News Now