Russian naval ships, including nuclear-powered submarine, to visit Cuba | CNN (2024)

Russian naval ships, including nuclear-powered submarine, to visit Cuba | CNN (1)

In this photo taken from video released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on May 23, 2024, Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov conducts an air defense exercise in the Atlantic Ocean.

Havana, Cuba CNN

A group of Russian naval ships, including a nuclear-powered submarine, will visit Cuba next week as part of “historically friendly relations,” Cuba’s government said Thursday.

The Russian “frigate Gorshkov, the nuclear-powered submarine Kazan, the fleet oil tanker Pashin, and the rescue tug Nikolai Chiker” will visit the port of Havana between June 12 and 17, according to the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces in a statement published by the Foreign Ministry.

Cuba says none of the ships carry nuclear weapons and insists their stopover does not represent a threat to the region.

“Visits by naval units from other countries are a historical practice of the revolutionary government with nations that maintain relations of friendship and collaboration,” the statement added.

Moscow has not confirmed the information provided by Cuba. CNN has reached out to the Russian government for comment.

It’s not the first time Russian Navy ships have been sent to Cuba, a key ally to the former Soviet Union during the Cold War that briefly hosted nuclear missiles at Moscow’s behest during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Last July, the Russian Navy’s training class ship Perekop sailed into Havana for a four-day visit.

The latest visit appears to be the largest of its kind in years.

Cuba is increasingly reliant on Russian oil and aid as the communist-run country weathers its worst economic crisis in decades.

Ukrainian troops use camouflage netting to hide an American-supplied Abrams tank in eastern Ukraine. Mick Krever/CNN Related article Putin warns Russia could arm enemies of Western nations supplying weapons to Ukraine

Cuba’s announcement comes days after US President Joe Biden gave Ukraine permission to carry out limited strikes inside Russian territory with American munitions. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Western countries “supplying weapons to a conflict zone is always a bad thing.”

“In the end, if we see that these countries become involved in a war against us, what they are doing makes them directly involved in a war against the Russian Federation, we reserve the right to act the same way,” Putin said on Wednesday.

Putin added that as a response, “we will improve our air defense systems to destroy the missiles.” He also asked why Russia would “not have the right to supply our weapons of the same class to those regions of the world where there will be strikes on the sensitive facilities of those countries that are doing this against Russia?”

‘No direct threat’

Russia’s military is expected to increase its naval and air activity near the United States this summer as part of routine maneuvers in the lead up to a global naval exercise in the fall, according to the US State Department and the Pentagon.

“Russia is likely to send combat naval vessels to the Caribbean, with potential port calls in Cuba and possibly Venezuela,” Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Charlie Dietz said on Thursday. “Aircraft deployments or flights in the region are also anticipated. These deployments are part of Russia’s routine naval operations and pose no direct threat to the United States.”

The Russian navy's training class ship Perekop is seen in Havana on Tuesday, July 11, 2023. Reynel Diaz/CNN Related article A Russian Navy ship docks in Cuba as tough times bring the old friends together

Alongside Russian ships this summer will also be one of the Russian Navy’s Severodvinsk II-class submarines, Dietz said. The port call for that submarine was approved “at least in part due to Havana’s displeasure” over the visit of a US nuclear submarine to the US’ Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba last year, he said.

Cuba has hosted Russian ships every year between 2013 and 2020, Dietz said, adding that the exercises “impose a significant cost on the Russian Navy, which faces challenges in maintaining readiness and conducting deployments with an aging fleet.”

“Given Russia’s long history of Cuban port calls, these are considered routine naval visits, especially in the context of increased US support to Ukraine and NATO exercises,” Dietz said.

This story has been updated with additional information.

Russian naval ships, including nuclear-powered submarine, to visit Cuba | CNN (2024)
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