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Naval showdown near Cuba as U.S. sends submarine to Guantanamo Bay day after Russian fleet arrives in Havana
By Cassie B. // Jun 18, 2024

A U.S. Navy attack submarine has turned up at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, just a day after a fleet of Russian warships arrived there for planned military exercises.

The ship in question is the USS Helena, a nuclear-powered fast attack sub. According to the U.S. Southern Command, its stop is a “routine port visit” as it passes through the region, but the timing is noteworthy.

A day earlier, a Russian nuclear-powered submarine, an oil tanker, a rescue tug, and a Russian frigate went into Havana Bay following a series of drills further out in the Atlantic Ocean. The force was led by the missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov and included the Yasen-class Kazan nuclear sub, which are considered two of the country’s most modern vessels.

Russia claims the ships do not have nuclear missiles on board and that they are fully complying with international law. However, the Admiral Gorshkov is known to be armed with Zircon hypersonic missiles that could be used against ground targets as well as enemy ships. The missiles are capable of flying 9 times faster than the speed of sound.

The Kazan sailed into the harbor half submerged with its crew on deck.

The AP has described the arrival of the USS Helena as a “show of force” after the Russian ships veered so closely to American shores.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said: “Clearly this is them signaling their displeasure about what we’re doing for Ukraine.”

He added that the U.S. has “no indication and no expectation that nuclear weapons will be at play here.”

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When she was asked what signal Russia was sending with the ships, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said that the West does not seem to pay much attention to the signals it sends via diplomatic channels.

However, she said, "As soon as it comes to exercises or sea voyages, we immediately hear questions and a desire to know what these messages are about. Why do only signals related only to our army and navy reach the West?"

Russia might respond to U.S. support for Ukraine

Although Russia has sent warships to the area in the past, this visit comes on the heels of a warning from Russian President Vladimir Putin that they may respond to a recent move by the U.S. to allow Ukraine to use its weapons to strike targets in Russia by providing similar weapons to the U.S.’s adversaries around the world. He said that authorizing strikes on the U.S. through proxy countries is equivalent to what America is currently doing in Ukraine.

Strategic intelligence analyst Rebekah Koffler told Fox News that she believes Putin wants to remind the U.S. that “we can touch you.”

"Putin wants to be close to the U.S. homeland at this time when the Russia-Ukraine crisis is on a highly escalatory trajectory — given Biden’s authorization to Ukraine,” she said.

“If something goes wrong and Ukraine strikes critical targets in Russia close to major cities, the Russian military can enable the Cubans to strike targets inside the U.S. or strike U.S. interests."

Biden recently approved the use of American missiles by Ukraine to strike targets on Russian soil. He also granted approval for the highly controversial Azov Battalion, known for its neo-Nazi roots, to use weapons provided by the U.S. despite past accusations of human rights abuses.

The Russian fleet will remain in Havana until June 17.

Sources for this article include:





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