Russia nuclear-powered submarine to visit Cuba amid rising tensions with US | Russia

A Russian nuclear-powered submarine – which will not be carrying nuclear weapons – will visit Havana next week, Cuba’s communist authorities have announced, amid rising tensions with the US over the war in Ukraine.

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 the Cuban capital from 12-17 June, Cuba’s ministry of the revolutionary armed forces said in a statement.

“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.

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. However, it comes as 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.

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