Thursday, December 4, 2008
Russia is sending a warship through the Panama Canal for the first time since World War II, and it will dock at a former US naval base.
The Russian Navy announced on Wednesday that it would visit “the Rodman Naval Base” which is a name that Panama has not used since taking over the base from the US in 1999.
The Russian destroyer Admiral Chabanenko is set to enter the Canal on Friday morning and arrive later at Balboa Naval Base, AP reported.
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Adam Isacson, an analyst for the Washington-based Center for International Policy said, “It is a sort of tit-for-tat for Russia’s perception of US meddling in Georgia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe,” and has little military purpose.
“Sending a destroyer through the Panama Canal obviously has a lot of symbolic significance (and) this is primarily symbolism,” said analyst Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington.
The Canal was a former symbol of US’s growing global reach when it opened in 1914. It was also a major military outpost for many years.
The 10-mile-wide, 51-mile-long strip along the canal was considered US territory – hence allowing Canal Zone native John McCain to run for the US presidency.
Meanwhile, Panama is implementing a multibillion dollar project to widen the waterway to allow for the passage of larger ships.
The country views the former US bases as a tourist attraction these days and the former Fort Amador is now better known as a seafood restaurant.
This article was posted: Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 7:34 am