14ymedio, Havana, December 2, 2023 — War tanks, missile launchers, Ural-4320 trucks, soldiers capable of walking on barbed wire and a labyrinth of secret tunnels. The disturbing images that the Cuban Army allowed a reporter from the Russian channel Zvezda to record have all the ingredients of a propaganda cocktail, but they offer a clear message: Cuba has no complexes in showing itself to its allies as a key military point in the region.
The Military Acceptance program, led by Alexey Egorov and specializing in analysis of war material, dedicated 40 minutes to tour various facilities of the Armed Forces, including the Granma Naval Academy, the Museum of the Revolution in Havana and an underground arsenal more than 100 meters deep.
Egorov boasted that in his foray into the Cuban Army tunnels he achieved “unique images,” and that his team is “the first foreign media outlet to descend into the weapons warehouses” on the island. While examining the rocket launchers – known popularly called katiushas and capable of simultaneously firing 40 projectiles — the reporter stressed that Cuba was only 180 kilometers from the coast of the United States, although, he admitted, more than 9,700 kilometers separate it from Russia.
The intention of the program – which will have a second episode – is to show “how Caribbean steel is hardened” and “where the island’s warriors get their combat experience.” In addition, it devotes numerous comments to describing “how the Soviet Union protected Liberty Island, with its nuclear shield, from American attacks,” alluding to the missiles with atomic warheads that the USSR quickly installed and removed on the Island at beginning of the 1960’s.
Alexey Egorov, the Russian journalist to whom the Army opened the doors of its facilities, is a staunch supporter of Vladimir Putin and an enthusiastic defender of his invasion of Ukraine. Bulletproof in ideological matters, Egorov appears on the list of 1,500 warmongers in the service of the Kremlin published by the Free Russia Forum.
The hosts spared no attention to the Moscow envoy. With a lamp in his hand and after handing over his cell phone, Egorov began his program praising the Cuban military installations and going through several meters of tunnels in excellent condition, well lit and signposted. He was accompanied at all times, although they were not identified, by a first colonel of the Armed Forces and several colonels in field dress.
Covered with tarps to protect them from humidity, there were several war tanks, Russian Ural 4320 trucks and Chinese Howo, which the Army had already exhibited during parades at the beginning of the year. He also visited the so-called Reactive Artillery Group, where the missile launchers, installed on Ural vehicles, and various Army logistics implements and food suplies are kept.
Egorov compared the Cuban tunnels with those in North Korea, which he also visited during a broadcast of his program. The training and protection systems of the arsenal, he demonstrated, are very similar, and the island’s troops have proven their effectiveness in operations in Angola, Ethiopia and Granada, he listed, although it is known that the Cuban soldiers fled in disarray before the 82nd US Airborne Division in Grenada.
The camera then moves to open fields, where several platoons of Black Wasps – armed with Kalashnikov rifles and wearing camouflage paint – demonstrate their training maneuvers along the coast. In addition to physical exercises, tactical studies and hand-to-hand combat, recruits must walk barefoot and shirtless over barbed wire. Another operation consists of lying on the wires so that other soldiers can walk on their backs.
At the Granma Naval Academy, east of Havana, Egorov examined the training techniques of the Cuban Navy. Among his equipment, the reporter highlighted a virtual simulator that occupies an entire room, and that reproduces the bridge of a warship. The training images are those of a hypothetical battle in Havana Bay.
To illustrate the excellent health among the senior military officials of Russia and Cuba, Egorov showed recordings of the meeting in Moscow between the Cuban Minister of the Armed Forces, Álvaro López Miera, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, last June. The journalist also showed unpublished images of the visit to Havana of the Russian training ship Perekop – whose authorities canceled, without explanation, the visits that Cuban civilians had scheduled to its deck, last July – and his tour of the Museum of Revolution and Playa Girón [referred to as the Bay of Pigs in the US].
The images published by Egorov come to light in a diplomatic context in which Havana must tread carefully. On the one hand, the recent announcement that the regime plans to buy Polonez-M missiles from Belarus, with a range of 300 meters, would be a direct military provocation for the region. On the other hand, the ratification of Cuba as one of the countries sponsoring terrorism, according to the annual list prepared by the United States.
Everything, after a year of maximum tension in which rumors about Russian spy bases on the Island, the presence of Cuban soldiers in the invasion of Ukraine and the alliance between Havana and the Kremlin, have filled the front pages of all the newspapers from around the world, except those from Cuba.
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