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Russia reportedly strikes deal with Cuba to reopen Cold War-era listening post


December 13, 2000: The secret Russian listening station at Lourdes some 19 miles south of Havana is seen in this file photo. (Reuters)

Russia has reportedly reached a deal with Cuba to reopen a Cold War-era listening post that was used to intercept U.S. communications and provide information to Russian Navy ships in the region.

Government sources who spoke to Russian newspaper Kommersant said the deal was reached while President Vladimir Putin was visiting Havana Friday.

The sources said Moscow began talks with Cuba years ago to re-open the post in the Havana suburb of Lourdes, but increased negotiations at the beginning of this year. Russia is also agreeing to write off 90 percent of the $32 billion debt Cuba owes Russia, Kommersant reports.

The post, which opened in 1967, is located 150 miles off the coast of Florida.

At its peak use, the post was worked by 3,000 Soviet military and intelligence personnel, who intercepted communications and relayed the information to Russian Navy ships and submarines in the Western hemisphere, according to The Telegraph.

But the post was closed in late 2001 due to a lack of Russian financing and pressure from Washington to improve ties between the two countries.

Vyacheslav Trubnikov, a former director of Russia’s intelligence service, said the post “gave the Soviet Union eyes in the whole of the western hemisphere.”

"For Russia, which is fighting for its lawful rights and place in the international community, it would be no less valuable than for the USSR,” Trubnikov told The Telegraph.

The listening post was the most powerful Soviet electronic intelligence center located outside Russia’s territory, Kommersant reports.

U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki has not commented on reports of the alleged deal due to the lack of an official statement from Russia or Cuba, the newspaper reported, citing Interfax news agency.