Politics, World

Russian warships withdraw from Cuba, leaving trail of tension

Fleet of Russian ships plus nuclear submarine arrived at Cuban port of Havana, remaining for 5 days

Laura Gamba  | 18.06.2024 - Update : 19.06.2024
Russian warships withdraw from Cuba, leaving trail of tension

BOGOTA, Colombia

Russian warships that had sailed into the Cuban port of Havana left the island nation Monday after a five-day visit.

The Admiral Gorshkov frigate, a rescue tug, a fuel ship and the Kazan, a nuclear-powered submarine, entered Havana harbor last Wednesday to a 21-gun salute.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel visited the frigate on Sunday, which is capable of firing hypersonic missiles that travel at more than 6,000 miles (9,656 kilometers) per hour.

“It is the expression of the solid and historical ties of friendship, brotherhood and cooperation that exist between our people, governments and Armed Forces,” he said.

Cuba’s defense ministry and the US said the ships did not represent “a threat to the region,” but the Pentagon sent its own nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine to the US navy base in Guantanamo Bay, about 500 miles (804 kilometers) southeast from where the Russian ships were docked.

US officials said they closely monitored the visit.

Cuba’s Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio said the Cuban government did not agree with the arrival of the US submarine.

"Naval visits to a country are usually the result of an invitation, and this was not the case," said Fernandez de Cossio.

"We do not like the presence in our territory (of a submarine) belonging to a power that maintains an official and practical policy that is hostile against Cuba," he added.

Both Cuba and Russia said the operation "corresponds to the historical relations of friendship" between the two countries and occurs within the "framework of international cooperation" that exists between them.

The two nations have been longstanding allies, but the deployment of warships in waters surrounding the island country has been seen as a show of force by Moscow.

The Russian move comes at a particularly tense time between Washington and Moscow, several weeks after US President Joe Biden agreed to allow Ukraine to strike inside Russia with American weapons.

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