Pentagon downplays Russian warships arriving in Cuba

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(RUSSIA) — The Pentagon is downplaying Wednesday’s arrival of four Russian Navy ships in Cuba as U.S. officials acknowledge that U.S. Navy ships “actively monitored” the Russian ships as they made their way to a port of call in Havana.

At the on-camera Pentagon press briefing, spokesperson Sabrina Singh downplayed the Russian naval flotilla’s arrival in Havana noting that it’s happened multiple times over the years but acknowledged that U.S. military assets had been tracking the ships on their way to Cuba.

“We’ve been tracking the Russians plans for this,” Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon’s deputy press secretary told reporters Wednesday.

The Russian ships’ transit towards Cuba was monitored by six warships from the United States Navy, Canada, and France. They included the U.S. Navy destroyers USS Donald Cook, USS Delbert Black, USS Truxton, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stone, the Canadian frigate HMCS Ville de Quebec, and a French Lafayette class frigate.

“This is not a surprise we’ve seen them do this these type of port calls before and these are routine naval visits that we’ve seen under different administrations,” Singh said.

“We’re always constantly going to monitor any foreign vessels operating near U.S. territorial waters,” she added. U.S. territorial waters stretch out 12 nautical miles from the coastline.

A U.S. official said the Russian ships never came close to the American coastline as they transited the Atlantic Ocean.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has been very open about the port of call in Havana being made by the frigate “Admiral Gorshkov,” the nuclear-powered submarine “Kazan,” the sea supply tanker “Akademik Pashin” and the ocean rescue tug “Nikolai Chiker.”

Cuba’s defense ministry has described the visit as “keeping with the historical friendly ties between Cuba and the Russian Federation and is fully consistent with international rules.” In a statement, the ministry said “none of the ships carry nuclear weapons, due to which our country does not pose any threat to the region.”

Even though the Russian ships are in port, Singh said the U.S. was “going to continue to monitor what’s happening in the region.”

According to the Pentagon, Russia has sailed warships into the Western Hemisphere yearly from 2013 to 2020 with regular port visits into Havana.

The most recent docking of a warship was in June 2023 though the most recent military exercise in the region was in 2008 with Venezuela.

A U.S. official said that the port visit to Havana will last a few days and that sometime next week the Russian flotilla is expected to make a port of call in Venezuela.

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