Russian warships reach Cuban waters ahead of military exercises in the Caribbean

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Russia’s Kazan nuclear-powered submarine arrives at the port of Havana, Cuba on June 12. (AP)

CARACAS, Venezuela, June 13, (AP): A fleet of Russian warships reached Cuban waters on Wednesday ahead of planned military exercises in the Caribbean in what some see as a projection of strength as tensions grow over Western support for Ukraine.
Three ships slowly crossed the mouth of the Havana Bay accompanied by small boats that guided them through the narrow channel. The flagship frigate, adorned with the Russian and Cuban flags, was greeted by 21 cannon salutes. Sailors in dress uniform stood in military formation as they approached the island.
A nuclear-powered submarine was expected to arrive behind them.
The US military expects the exercises will involve a handful of Russian ships and support vessels, which may also stop in Venezuela.
Russia is a longtime ally of Venezuela and Cuba, and its warships and aircraft have periodically made forays into the Caribbean. But this mission comes less than two weeks after President Joe Biden authorized Ukraine to use US-provided weapons to strike inside Russia to protect Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, prompting President Vladimir Putin to suggest his military could respond with “asymmetrical steps” elsewhere in the world.
“Most of all, the warships are a reminder to Washington that it is unpleasant when an adversary meddles in your near abroad,” said Benjamin Gedan, director of the Latin America Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center think tank, referring to the Western involvement in Russia’s war in Ukraine. “It also reminds Russia’s friends in the region, including US antagonists Cuba and Venezuela, that Moscow is on their side.”

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