Russian naval bases for world peace


by J.E. Dyer

The times, they are a-changin’. Five years ago this month, at the very dawn of the Obama Epoch, there was a flutter in the dovecote where the armchair military analysts hang out. A rumor circulated that Russia planned to secure the use of the Yemeni island of Socotra, in the Indian Ocean, as a naval base. The old Soviet navy had used Socotra for anchorage during its Cold War-era patrols in South Asia; in 2009, with the multinational antipiracy operation spinning up off Somalia, the Russian navy was back after an absence of nearly 20 years.

Questioned on this topic, a Russian navy spokesman was categorical: the rumor was “baseless and incorrect.” No such intention had crossed Russian minds. Didn’t matter how many bases or anchorage or service agreements Soviet Russia had once had abroad, in Asia, Africa, the Mediterranean, and Cuba. Bases? Russia? Don’t be silly.

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