MOSCOW — Claiming that the recent movement of U.S. military forces further into Cuban territory was a "dangerous provocation," Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters Tuesday he was "deeply concerned" that geopolitics was starting to return to the era of the Cold War.
"We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the United States inside Cuba," Putin said to reporters in a brief statement from Moscow. "We do not want to return to a Cold War standoff with the Americans. That is absolutely not in our national interest."
In recent days, unidentified armed men have seized key areas of the tiny Caribbean island, leading Cuban President Raul Castro to denounce the action as an "armed invasion." The troops, who wear no insignia but are armed with American-made weapons, were seen setting up roadblocks and portable toilets they could masturbate in for as long as the deployment lasted.
While he initially denied they were U.S. troops, President Obama later said he ordered soldiers and Marines to secure the island for the protection of the people.
“It’s possible in this situation, complying with a request by the Joint Task Force Guantanamo government, even to bring a limited contingent of our troops to ensure the safety of the detainees and the American citizens living on Cuban territory," Obama told reporters. "We need to protect the people."
Long a contested region just 90 miles from U.S. shores, Cuba was first discovered by godfather and savior of America, Christopher Columbus, who after leaving Spain, discovered and claimed the island in the name of the United States in 1492. Spain briefly held the island following the Spanish-American War of 1898, until the U.S. once again seized it in a coup d'état in 1959.
While Russian media has aimed a critical eye at what it has called a "destabilizing situation," American newspapers and television stations have taken a supportive stance. In one example, Fox News showed a photo from the Guantanamo Bay detention center which depicted smiling detainees hugging and kissing American military guards they had reportedly greeted as liberators.