SOVIET GEOPOLITICAL AND MILITARY INTERESTS IN GRENADA AND SURINAME

Created: 4/21/1983

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DIRECTORATE OF INTELLIGENCEpril3

SOVIET GEOPOLITICAL AND MILITARY INTERESTS IN GRENADA ANDRINAME

Suamary

The trend toward closer relations between the USSR and Grenada haa accelerated la the past year. These growing bilateral links underscore Moscow's broad strategic interest In undermining the DS position In the hemisphere. The ongoing airfield construction project In Grenada will Improve the Island's capability to support Soviet forces and can be used to sustain Cuban Interventionist in the hemisphere and la Africa. If proposed port development programs materialize, Grenada could also support Soviet naval forces. I

It is possible that the Soviets will make some limited use of Grenada for periodic deployments of maritime reconnaissance or ASH patrol aircraft such as the TD-95 Bear r ear F, or for occasional visits by naval combatants. Moscow may undertake such

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snail steps as a less provocative test of US reaction. It would thus hope to accliaate the DS to an expanding Soviet role in the Caribbean. The Soviets might hope that such actions would serve notice of the USSR's capability to operate in the region in wartime and cause the DS to divert some military resources from other missions.

In contrast to Grenada. the Soviets have been less act (ve in promoting ties with the Bouterse regime la in part because of the contInulng political uncertainty in that country. We do not think the Soviets see much military advantage in Surinamese facilities , and until Soviet-Surinamese relet Ions develop much farther, think it unlikely they will seek such

We doubt that Hoscov wants to develop either Grenada or Suriname ajor Soviet naval base. Although Grenada is situated next to a primary trade route for bringing oil into the Caribbean,, ve do not believe Moscow envisions conductlng substantial naval operations to cut such sea lines of communications im wartime. Nor do we think Moscow saes either country as an attractive base for Soviet ballistic missile submarines or for ballistic or cruise missiles. Moscow has usually deployed nuclearlose% stable allle^ In view of the political uncertainties In Grenada and as well as the need for a substantial Investment in both Infrastructure and air defenaes that would be required, ve think it far likely that the USSR'would look again to Cuba If it vere to seek a strategic weapona base in the hemisphere * ^

Furthermore, In view of Moscow's recognition of the Caribbean region's Importance to the US security Interests and political aad military vulnerability of Grenada aad Suriname p It would consider the high risk that Wsshlngton would respond with force to Soviet military use of Grenada and Suriname for strategic purposes. The Sovieta also know that Grenada and Suriname are more vulnerable targets than Cuba to US military actions or political destabiHeation afforta*

In the INF negotiations, the Soviets have sought deliberately to play upon US anxieties over the possible deployment of Soviet nuclear ueapon systems close to the US In answer to NATO's deployments of OS Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles in Western Europe.

Soviet Objectives

Soviet policy toward Grenada, Surlnaae and ths Caribbean region. In general, Is largely aotivatsd by the USSR's competition with the United States and Ideological commitment to support leftist causes. we believe Moscow's basic aim is to underline US influence there by expanding its own political, economic, and military ties with friendly regimes and by promoting radical change. Toward this end, the Soviets have been gradually expanding their links to the leftist regime in Grenada which they hope to useonduit to other revolutionaries lu the region and hope will contribute to the emergence of other similarly oriented regimes. Moscow anticipates that continuing instability in the region will divert US attention and military forces--from more diatant problems, and undercut Washington's credibility In the eyes of its hemispheric neighbors ss well aa other Third World countries*

Soviet Relatione with Grenada

The Soviets have steadily iacrssied their Influence in Grenada since Maurice Bishop aad his New Jewel Movement took poweroup in March The trend toward closer relations has been reflected in the past year by the establishment of the Soviet diplomatic mission on the island and in the increasing number of high-level Grenadlan visitors to the USSR. Prime Minister Bishop's visit to Moscow and his meeting with Prtne Minister Tlkhonov last July is the most noteworthy marker in this process.

In the last year, the Soviets have agreed to increase agricultural and technical assistance and have signed new trade

Moscow's Geopolitical and Military Interests

Despite these growing links, Moscow has no present vital security or defense Interest in Grenada, Surlname or In the Caribbean region in general and has consequently expended only United resources there. Because the. region is remote from the .USSR while important to US security interests Moscow has moved cautiously in the area, primarily relying on Intermediaries with an eye to US responses. It probably be-lleves that Washington would react with force to Soviet moves to establish a significant military presence in Grenada, especially If they were to posetrategic threat to the US.

Soviet Naval Use in Grenada and Surlname: The Soviets could deploy submarines equipped with either strategic ballistic or cruise missiles to the Caribbean, but the move would provide marginal military advantage since Soviet SSBNs currently based in the Northern Fleet and on patrol In the north Atlantic are capable of hitting targets in the US. Deploying submarines to the Caribbean would make them considerably more vulnerable to the US ASW forces than they would be In their current more secure North Atlantic operating areas. In addition, such a move would be Inconsistent with evolving Soviet SSBN doctrine, which emphasizes placing the submarines equipped with longer-range ballistic missiles increasingly closer to the USSR for more security and protection.

Tha Soviets recognize that sea routes of considerable strategic value to the US pass through the Caribbean and nearrenada. The Galleon passage between Trinidad and Grenada, for example,rimary route for oil carriers destined for Caribbean refineries or transshipment points. Nevertheless, we do not believe that interdiction of the sea lines of communications in the Caribbean would beajor mission of the Soviet Navy or is a major stimulus for Soviet interest in the region.

Nonetheless, Moscow might consider occasional calls by surface combatants or attack submarines asay of demonstrating their interest and a right to deploy warships to the area. The Soviets may also think such deployments would serve notice on

Washington of the USSR'* capability to operate in tha region in wartlae and might cause the US to divert some military resources from other missions.

The Soviets alreadymall naval force in the Caribbean. Usually this consists of one or two research ships and. an, auxiliary vessel mainly serving Intelligence-gatheringpurposes. From time co tine the Soviets deploy naval task groups to show tha flag, cruise in the Culf of Mexico and exercise with the Cuban Navy whose forces and facilities are currently being upgraded. The most recent task grouptypically consist of a guided-missile cruiser and place in April 1 and November January .

Facilities in Grenada and Suriname are currently Inadequate for providing significant logistical support for these types of combatants. Nevertheless, since Soviet warships generally are supported by their own naval auxiliaries and do not require the use of local naval facilities, they could visit Grenada and Suriname. The Soviets could provide soma logistic support in either Grenada or Suriname by upgrading the local facilities or by temporarily deploying naval auxiliaries outside the local ports. Auxiliaries used in this manner, however, can only perform limited services. Xn the event that the Soviets wanted to supplement their afloat logistics with land-based support as they do elsewhere, in our judgment they would be more likely to use existing Cuban facilities.

Port Facilities in Grenada: The commercial port of St.nest coast Is currently the only facility that could accommodate Soviet naval vessels or Cuban ships. Itatural deep harbor and has been used by Soviet cruise ships aa well as by Cuban merchant ships to ferry arms and personnel to and from Grenada. There are no facilities for providing shipboard electricity or bunkaring at St. George's, which hasimited storage area, and the port is usually congested

The Soviets and Crenedians oight see an advantage to having a port facility in addition to St. George's. For example, they might consider the mora isolated Grenvllle to be more secure for the servicing of naval evertheless, the construction of a major port would clearly be both costly and protracted. Granville in a small town iles from St. George's, separated by mountains and rugged terrain. However, a small functioning nearby. Construction of a deepwater port there wouldong and difficultlarge reef lies off the coast and the shoreline is littered with large boulders. The labor force, technical support and equipment would have to be imported.

Port Facilities in Surlnamet Paramaribo, Suriname'a major port facility, located on the Surlname River over ilometers from the coast. The river channel has a maximum depth of about eet, although the anchorage at the port Is o eet deep. The three wharfs at Paramaribo, from o 0 feet long, could accommodate vessels drawing up to 20 feet (the size of a small frigate) but there are no cranes present and inor repair capability available at the port. Without additional dredging,-the river channel probably would not be sufficiently deep to allow most Soviet naval vessels or submarines to resch Paramaribo* Significant construction of shore facilities would also have to be undertaken before Soviet naval vessels could use the port for logistical support.

Suriname's only other active port. New Nickerie, 1* located on the western coast and is also a short distance upriver. The approach to the port is onlyo eet deep, however, which would rule out its uBe by the type of naval vessels the Soviets operate in the'Caribbean.

Soviet Air Use of Grenada and Sutlnaoe

Soviet air operations from Grenada and Suriname would only marginally improve the USSR's surveillance capabilities in the Atlantic. If TU-95 (Bear D) naval reconnaissance aircraft or SW patrol aircraft were based In Grenada or Suriname, they couldmall section of the eastern South Atlantic that is not now covered by Bear Ds that stage out of Cuba or Angola. We doubt that tbe Soviets are Interested in such reconnaissance or ASW capability. In view of tha absence of significant Soviet or US naval activity in thie area. Moreover, last yearircraft deployments were shifted toore secure and improved airfield In Cuba, suggesting that Moscow envisions this facility as sufficient for the foreseeable future. It Is possible, however, that the Soviets may see Grenada and Suriname as potential backup facilities for the r eployments la the region. This element of redundancy would be consistent with their practice elsewhere In the Third World.

The Point Salines Airportwill have the

capability to serve as a base strategic bombers or

receiveBackfire)one-way strikethe USSR,

, training activities 'of the Sovietombers have not Included ln-flight refueling or Arctic training and their subordination and exercise activity suggest that they are intended for use against NATO countries and China. In any case, the Soviets do have long-range strategic bombers that can reach the US from bases in the USSR on two-way strike missions.

Air Facilities in Grenada: Tha new International airport at PointSalines on Grenada's southern coast is scheduled for completion by early are unaware of any direct Soviet Involvement In the project; Cuba haa provided the bulk of the labor and equipment for the construction of tha illion facility. More than half of the proposed approximately oot runway haa already been surfaced and the remainder is expected to be finished this year. Construction of the airport terminal building, fuel atorage area, and other support facilities is also underway.

The Dew airport is intended to provide a, boost CO sagging tourist industry by enabling direct flights from overseas points. Although ostensibly designed for commercial use. the airport will also be able to accommodate most of the military aircraft In the Cuban and Soviet Inventories. nd ighters as well as hort-range transports even now would be capable of operating, from the approximatelyeet of completed runway.

Grensdlan officials have generally denied that the airport will ba used for military purposes and Andropov has publicly referred to Itivil airport, but the heavy Cuban involvement in the project suggests Havana sees strategic advantages in it. The Cubans probably will want to use it aatopover point for Cubans Airlines IL-62 transports that regularly ferry Cuban troops to and from Africa. The Cubans might also want to be sble to deploy some military fighter aircraft to the island, particularly in case the New Jewel Movement's hold on power came under serious threat.

Air Facilities in Surlname: Zanderlj International Airport, located about ilometers south of Paramaribo, has an 0 foot runway that would be capable of handling most Soviet-built civil or military aircraft. The airfield is equipped with modern navigational equipment. There lamaller civilian airport in Paramaribo but its runway is less thant.

None of the Cuban Air Force'a MIG fighters have sufficient ferry range to reach Surlname directly from distance of over iles. Moreover, only a few typea of Cuban military or civilian transport aircraft are capable of reaching Surlname. top in Grenada, however, they could easily make the trip.

Land-Based Systems : Ue believe the Soviets are unlikely to deploy land-based strategic systems In Grenada or Surlname such as the SS-20 intermed1 ate-range ballistic missile or the round-launched cruise missile. ThIs is prlmsrlly becsuse they know that such a move would almost certainly irect conventional military confrontation with the United States in an area where the US has military preponderance.

In addition, the Soviets would have to overcome significant political and logistical constraints before deploying strategic weapons to these countries. Although the USSR is developing closer political relations with the leftlat regimes in Grenada and Surlname, Moscow's continuing csution in dealing with them suggest that it Is still uncertain about their long-term staying power. Except for Cuba In the Soviets have not deployed nuclear weapons outside the territories of their elose eommunlst allies, where both atable friendly regimes along with Soviet combat troops serve to guarantee their security.

The two countries alio lack the baaic infrastructure auch as roads and support faeilltlee to accommodate land-base ballistic missiles such aa tha n their development would be a costly and protracted task. Moreover, construction over a normal ase with nine launcher garages would take atear and would be quickly detected by satellite surveillance. Furthermore, Moscow-.would have to lnatall air defense systems in both countries if it wai to ensure that lta military facllltlaa there would not be highly vulnerable to US attack. In view of thaaa conslderationa, in our judgment It would ba much mora likely that the USSR would turn to Cuba if lt_again were to deploy atrateglc systems in tbe hemisphere

Soviet Political Calculations

The Soviets almoat certainly would see more political than military advantages from a successful expansion of their military presence to Crenada or Suriname. The Soviets would view US accaptance of their if it involved strategic nuclear weapons--there as another demonstration of the change in tha global power balance in their favor. They would hope that suchevelopment would embolden revolutionaries lo tha Caribbean region and elsewhere in tha hemisphere to intensify challenge to tha

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The Soviets might also see their military expansion la Crenada and Suriname as a way to probe the limits of the US-Sovlet2 understanding without challenging it directly. They could probe US resolve by military deployments such as pore calls or naval reconnaissance flights or initially by even less controversial moves such as direct arms deliveries and establishment of Soviet military training missions. Such Incremental steps haa^jjiiffjieen a hallmark of the Soviet approach io the Third World.

They might see Washington's acceptance of a growing Soviet military presence in thaae countrles--especlally repreaented by the occasional deployment of naval combatants or an indication of a lack of will to check mora ambitious Soviet military moves in Cuba. The Soviets might also calculate thatoviet military presence lo Crenada would bolster Castro's confldanca in tha USSR's willingness to protect him from US military move*.

The Soviets may even consider that some ambiguous preparations for deployement of land-based nuclear weapons in the Caribbean would create an internatloaal crisis situation that could cause a breakdown in the US domestic consensus behind the INF deployments in Western Europe and provoke a crisis within NATO over this Issue. Moscow could defend such "analogous" action by claiming that the US plan to deploy Pershing missiles in Western Europe had rendered Soviet-American understandings In Cuba Inoperative. We think, however, that if Moscow undertook such a course it would be more likely to do so in Cuba than, in

Grenada. Surlname would be even less likely. This la because Moscowlose political relationship with Castro and because Cubauperior infrastructureorts, airfields and military particularly hastrong air defense capability.

Weighed against these potential political benefits, however, Moscow would bave to recognise that a significant Soviet military expansion In Grenada and Surlname would have a major negative Impact on Its relations with the OS. The Soviets are almost certainly aware that ove would bring new atralas to US -Soviet relations, rally domestic support in the US for stronger and more assertive defensa policies, and jeopardize remaining US-Soviet contacts

would also have to consider the prospect of direct US military actions against significant Soviet military expsnslon In either Grenada or Surlname, particularly if it Involved atrateglc weapons. In view of such developments as the US warning against sending MIG aircraft to Nicaragua, the Soviets are aware of the growing US resolve to resist further Soviet probes or advances In the Western Hemisphere.

In the event of direct US military response to Soviet moves, Moscow would be forced to choose between a global confrontation with the US or retreating. The Soviets are aware that another retreat in the hemisphere would be a major setback to their credibility in the region and elsewhere in the Third World.

Although the Soviet-US understanding barring Soviet strategic military use of Cuba does not extend to Grenada or Surlname, in our judgment, Moscow anticipates that the US administration would quickly unilaterally extend It to both of these countries If challenged there.ml Moreover, tbe Soviets are aware of the US ability to bring superior conventional military pressure to bear In the Caribbean and probably believe Washington sees this area as Idealilitary confrontation with the USSR. Furthermore, they know that Grenada and Surlname would be a much more vulnerable target for US military or ation efforts than Cuba.

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