NewsRussian warships make bold move in Havana, monitored by US Navy

Russian warships make bold move in Havana, monitored by US Navy

Russian ships in the port of Havana
Russian ships in the port of Havana
Images source: © PAP

3:55 PM EDT, June 13, 2024

On Wednesday, four Russian vessels arrived at the port of Havana. Among them were a nuclear submarine and the frigate Admiral Gorshkov. "Putin's goal is to signal that he still has the capability to operate within the American sphere of influence," assessed international relations expert Cynthia Arnson.

The Cuban authorities announced last week that four Russian ships would make an "official visit to the port of Havana" from June 12-17. The visit comes after completed exercises using "precision missile weapons" that the Russians conducted in the Atlantic. The statement emphasized the "historically friendly relations" between Russia and Cuba. Havana assured that the ships are not transporting nuclear weapons.

This does not mean, however, that the Russian vessels are unarmed. The frigate and submarine can launch Zircon hypersonic missiles, Kalibr cruise missiles, and Onyx anti-ship missiles, noted "The Washington Post".

The AP agency linked the presence of the ships in the Atlantic to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's threats to take "asymmetrical steps" in retaliation for Biden's decision to allow Ukraine to use American weapons to strike Russian territory to defend Kharkiv.

Welcome salutes

Cubans lined up on the Havana waterfront on Wednesday to witness the arrival of the Russian ships. The Russians fired 21 salvos in honor of their hosts. The Cubans responded with an honorary salute from the fortress of San Carlos de La Cabaña.

How did the USA react to the visit to Cuba? The U.S. Department of Defense had been monitoring the Russian flotilla since the visit to Cuba was announced. "U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships will continue to monitor the situation," said Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh on Wednesday.

ABC News reported that the observing group includes three U.S. Navy destroyers, a Coast Guard cutter, and allied units—Canadian and French frigates.

Singh also stated that "the Russian exercises do not threaten the United States." "This is not a surprise," she added. In her opinion, such "routine naval visits" by the Russians have taken place "under various administrations."

Political scientist Vladimir Rouvinski from Icesi University in Colombia assessed the visit. "The efforts of the United States to limit their presence everywhere, especially in Latin America, are not succeeding," he stated in an interview with "The Washington Post".

"Putin's goal is to signal that he still can operate within the American sphere of influence," added Cynthia Arnson, an expert from the Wilson Center.

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