From a purely objective standpoint point, this is a good move for Roskosmos. Their main launch center at Baikonur is in another country (Kazakhstan) and their military launch center Plestek Cosmodrome is too far north to be truly useful except for orbits with high inclinations. A center in Cuba gives them access to equatorial orbits and the added momentum boost that comes from being launched closer to the equator.
I can't imagine Washington being happy about a Russian facility in Cuba presumably capable of launching ICBMs into the heart of the US.
Russia may help Cuba build space centre
NewScientist.com news service
New Scientist Space and Reuters
Moscow is ready to help Cuba develop its own space centre, Russia's space agency chief said on Wednesday after talks in Caracas with Venezuelan and Cuban officials, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency reported.
Russia has stepped up efforts to develop closer links with both countries, which are ideological enemies of Washington, including sending Russian strategic bombers on a mission to Venezuela this month.
"We have held preliminary discussions about the possibility of creating a space centre in Cuba with our help," Anatoly Perminov, the chief of Russia's Federal Space Agency, was quoted as saying in Caracas by Itar-Tass.
"With our Cuban colleagues, we discussed the possibilities of joint use of space equipment . . . and the joint use of space communications systems," Perminov said.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin visited Cuba this week and, together with representatives from several Russian ministries and large Russian companies, looked at ways to help Cuba recover from hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
Recently, tensions have grown between the US and Russia over the conflict in Georgia.
This has led to worries over how the US will send astronauts into space after the space shuttles are set to retire in 2010, since the White House had planned to purchase space flights from Russia until the shuttles' replacements begin flying in 2015.
Renewed Russian links to the Caribbean island will stir memories in Washington of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when the US and Soviet Union almost went to war over Soviet missile bases on Cuba, which is 145 km (90 miles) from US shores.
Russian officials have said they want to renew Cuban ties that were neglected after the Soviet Union's collapse.