A new report published today by the Washington Post claims the Russian government has constructed a new intelligence base in Central America.
The alleged base is located in Managua, Nicaragua, a city of about 2.2 million people. The Washington Post report states the Nicaraguan government claims the operation is “simply a tracking site of the Russian version of a GPS satellite system,” but the article claims sources in the U.S. government believe the site is being used for more than just GPS.
“Current and former U.S. officials suspect the new Russian facilities could have ‘dual use’ capabilities, particularly for electronic espionage … showing Russia can also strut in the United States’ back yard,” wrote Joshua Partlow for the Post.
In June 2016, the Washington Free Beacon reported sources inside the U.S. Defense Department claimed Moscow struck a deal with the Nicaraguan government that would allow the Russians to build a spy base in Managua in exchange for 50 T-72 Russian tanks. According to the Free Beacon, the tanks’ estimated cost was $80 million, which the publication reported was $9 million more than the small Central American country’s entire 2015 defense budget.
In October 2016, McClatchy reported Russia was considering expanding its military operations near the United States by increasing its presence in Cuba.
“The talks are under way,” said Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu of the possibility of a deal with Cuba.
In November 2016, NPR reported Russia had been constructing a new embassy, anti-drug training facility and the very same satellite station the Washington Post is now reporting is likely a spy base.
In December 2016, President Barack Obama sent dozens of Russian officials out of the country and closed two facilities in Maryland believed to be spy bases, according to a report by the Baltimore Sun. The White House said at the time it was cracking down on the Russians for their alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In February and March, there were multiple reports of a Russian spy ship off the United States' Atlantic coast. A spokesperson for the Pentagon told Fox News although there is concern about the ship, "It's lawful similar to operations we do around the world."
Despite these aggressive moves made by the Russian leadership, Partlow reported in the Washington Post article U.S. officials are not “alarmed by the growing Russia presence.”