Russian warships arrive in Cuba on a friendly visit; Turkey’s Supreme Military Council appoints new army commanders
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  • According to reports, three Russian warships led by the missile cruiser Moskva arrived on August 3 in Cuba on a friendly visit. This is the first such trip in four years. In August 2009 the salvage ship Altai, part of the Russian navy’s Northern Fleet, had paid a four-day “working visit” to Cuba. Cuba’s government has said the ships are there on a “friendly visit” and that tourists will be able to visit the Moskva. Russia has shown renewed interest in the close Cold-War ally and it was evident when Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev paid a three-day visit to Cuba in February this year and signed 10 bilateral agreements, including a new accord governing Cuba’s outstanding debt to the former Soviet power, which is estimated to be $20-30 billion. 1
    In another development, according to reports, Turkey’s top military council on August 3 appointed new army commanders. The Supreme Military Council chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided on the forced retirement of gendarmerie force commander Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu, who was expected to become land forces commander. It is believed that Erdogan blocked the promotion of Kalyoncu because the General’s name often cropped up in the trial of alleged coup plotters. Kalyoncu’s exit is considered the latest blow to Turkey’s beleaguered officer corps who are the target of a series of probes launched in recent years into past military interventions and coup plots. Gen. Hulusi Akar was promoted to the helm of the land forces and is expected to replace current chief of staff General Necdet Ozel in 2015. Since coming to power in 2002, Erdogan’s government has reined in the powerful military. The military has carried out four coups over half a century. 2