“If we come seriously and for a long time, then it costs money”
The expert community has voiced many options for Russia's possible response to the West's unwillingness to negotiate. We could deploy new medium-range missiles in Kaliningrad. Or set up military bases in Cuba. This, by the way, was not ruled out by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, though without going into details. The idea of bases in Cuba, as attractive as it is, has its pitfalls. In addition, the deployment of military units abroad is, in principle, a costly affair. The MC asked Ilya Kramnik, a researcher at IMEMO RAS, to evaluate the reality of such prospects.
– If we talk about missile bases on the territory of the same Cuba or Venezuela, then it is not at all a fact that they are burning with such a desire. After all, now we are in a situation of another round of confrontation between Russia and the United States. It turns out that Latin American countries are invited to voluntarily become pawns in a big game with an unknown result.
To provide a port for the business call of ships (temporary call at the port for replenishment of provisions, repair and rest of personnel. – “MK”) is one thing, but deploying the presence of troops and units, especially missile, combat aviation or even radar, is already a completely different level of involvement in the confrontation.
They are probably ready to provide us with a port. There have been contacts with Venezuela more than once on this issue. However, here a problem arises: we will send someone to this port once or twice a year, but, unfortunately, we cannot maintain the constant presence of a unit capable of performing combat missions.
– Purely theoretically, it could be Nicaragua. The remaining options have neither theoretical possibility nor practical meaning.
– The transfer of units, ships and equipment takes from several days to several weeks. But for a serious arrangement, it will take months. If full-scale construction is planned, the bill is already for years.
Here it is also important to understand that a permanent presence is laid down as part of a long-term strategy. When the strategy boils down to the fact that let's get some kind of reaction from NATO here and now, pulling up our pants, putting something on their doorstep, a number of difficulties arise. The first is the opinion of the proposed countries of placement, already voiced above. The second is that such displays of force will cost too much.
If the deployment of the base is not serious, no one will believe that this is a real threat. And if we come seriously and for a long time, and it can get you, then it costs money. But then this threatens to inevitably aggravate the existing problems of the countries that allowed to host such bases, with the United States and its allies.
– There are few operational decisions that would have an impact on the Americans. They all have either an invalid escalation level or some kind of restriction. For example, start air patrols of bombers with nuclear weapons on board. Although this is a measure in the spirit of the Cold War, the Soviet Union did not resort to it. And the US came running. But this is on the verge of starting a nuclear war, which everyone is afraid of.
Anything less in terms of escalation requires advanced general-purpose forces and the ability to project their power beyond their borders. Unfortunately, we are currently having problems with both.
The rub is that we have few good solutions here and now. All of them have their “buts” in case of their use. We can, for example, send submarines to the shores of the United States, but we cannot keep them there permanently. And the Americans are well aware of this. Maybe the situation will somehow change in the future, but it's hard to talk about it yet.