Saturday, March 14, 2009
New Cuban Missile Crisis With Russian Bombers May Be Emerging
During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama was often compared to John F. Kennedy. That was all theoretical. Now, however, a reality may be developing that would magnify the inevitable further comparisons.
The Russians may be considering basing strategic bombers in Venezuela and Cuba.
The Tupolev 95 Bear long range bomber is a turbo prop but with speeds just slightly below those of comparable jet powered heavy bombers. In 1999 two Tupolev 95 Bears flew within 40 miles of Alaska. During the Cold War, Bears that flew within 200 miles of U.S. aircraft carriers were intercepted by U.S. Naval jet fighters.
The Kremlin is downplaying an Interfax report which suggests that a Venezuelan island could be turned into a Russian air base and that any of three Cuban airports might host the bombers. But if this threat were to develop, Obama would be placed into a situation not dissimilar to the one Kennedy faced by the Cuban missile crisis. A crisis that led to the blockading of Cuba and the threat of nuclear war with Russia.
The inevitable strain with Cuba would run contrary to the administration's efforts to improve relations. Travel restrictions for Cuban Americans with relatives in Cuba that were imposed by the Bush administration have just been relaxed by the White House.
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