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Russian warships and a nuclear submarine will visit Cuba amid rising tensions with the US.

Kazan nuclear-powered submarine takes part in a naval parade in Kola Bay, Russia, 25 July 2021.

Four Russian warships and a nuclear-powered submarine will enter Cuban waters next week as part of a preplanned set of military exercises between the two countries.
The disclosure immediately drew comparisons with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 when the then Communist state secretly unloaded nuclear missiles onto the Caribbean Island.
The nuclear submarine Kazan and three other Russian naval vessels, including the missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov, an oil tanker and a salvage tug, will dock in Havana, Cuban capital from 12-17 June, the country’s Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces said in a statement.
A ministry spokesman said: “None of the vessels is carrying nuclear weapons, so their stopover in our country does not represent a threat to the region,” the ministry said.
Commenting on the statement, nuclear weapons expert Hans Kristensen wrote on Twitter (X): “I wouldn’t expect them to but I wonder if the Cubans would be in a position to know.”
Kristensen is Director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists.
Unlike non-strategic U.S. navy submarines, Russia’s multi-purpose submarines currently have cruise missiles that can be armed with tactical nuclear warheads. 
The announcement came a day after US officials said that Washington had been tracking Russian warships and aircraft that were expected to arrive in the Caribbean for a military exercise. They said the exercise would be part of a broader Russian response to US support for Ukraine.
The US officials said that the Russian military presence was notable but not concerning. But Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that Moscow could take “asymmetrical steps” elsewhere in the world in response to President Joe Biden’s decision to allow Ukraine to use US-provided weapons to strike inside Russia to protect Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
The unusual deployment of the Russian military so close to the US – particularly the powerful submarine – comes amid major tensions over the war in Ukraine, where the western-backed government is fighting a Russian invasion. The Russian vessels’ visit to Cuba will also overlap with Biden’s visit to the G7 leaders summit in Italy.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel met with Putin last month for the annual 9 May military parade on Red Square outside the Kremlin.
During the cold war, Cuba was an important client state for the Soviet Union. The deployment of Soviet nuclear missile sites on the island triggered the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when Washington and Moscow came close to war.
Relations between Russia and Cuba have become closer since a 2022 meeting between Diaz-Canel and Putin.
During the Russian fleet’s arrival at the port of Havana, 21 salvoes will be fired from one of the ships as a salute to the nation, which will be reciprocated by an artillery battery from Cuba’s revolutionary armed forces, the foreign ministry said.
Details of the Cuban war games emerged after the Ministry of Defence revealed that the Russian army has now sustained at least 500,000 casualties, either killed or wounded, since the start of President Putin’s special military operation in February 2022.
The announcement was also confirmed by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine which has said that 516,080 personnel had been killed or wounded. The Ukrainians also said that Russia had lost 7,834 tanks, 357 aircraft, 326 helicopters, along with 28 warships and one submarine.

Author

  • Sean Rayment

    Sean Rayment is the Defence and Security Editor for National Security News. He is also a best selling author, broadcaster and award-winning defence and security journalist. He has also previously served as an officer in Parachute Regiment Officer. He has reported from war zones around the world including Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Africa, and Northern Ireland and is one of the few British journalists to twice visit the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He has written for virtually all British national newspapers and specialises in security, intelligence, and defence reporting, with a specific interest in mental health issues in the military community. Sean is also the author of Bomb Hunters and Tales from the Special Forces Club. He also co-wrote the international bestselling Painting the Sand with Kim Hughes GC and Endurance with former SAS operator Louis Rudd.

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Sean Rayment is the Defence and Security Editor for National Security News. He is also a best selling author, broadcaster and award-winning defence and security journalist. He has also previously served as an officer in Parachute Regiment Officer. He has reported from war zones around the world including Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Africa, and Northern Ireland and is one of the few British journalists to twice visit the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He has written for virtually all British national newspapers and specialises in security, intelligence, and defence reporting, with a specific interest in mental health issues in the military community. Sean is also the author of Bomb Hunters and Tales from the Special Forces Club. He also co-wrote the international bestselling Painting the Sand with Kim Hughes GC and Endurance with former SAS operator Louis Rudd.