On June 12, 2024, the Russian Naval fleet arrived in Cuba for a five-days visit just off 160km from the mainland of the United States of America. Russia’s Admiral Gorshkov frigate and the nuclear-powered submarine Kazan are in the fleet. A tugboat and a fuel ship are also there. The move is seen as a show of force by Moscow as tensions rise over its invasion of Ukraine by the Western world. Along the Malecon waterfront avenue in Havana, curious onlookers, police, and fishermen gathered to greet the fleet when it arrived on Wednesday. Longtime friend Cuba hailed the arrival of the vessels with a 21-gun salute, as Russian officials waved little Russian flags and snapped pictures against the backdrop of the old fortifications of the port. On route to Cuba, the four Russian vessels engaged in “high-precision missile weapons” training in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Russian Ministry of Defence stated that the submarine and frigate had Zircon hypersonic missiles, Kalibr cruise missiles, and Onyx anti-ship missiles. Following Washington and some of Ukraine’s other Western allies allowing Kyiv to use their weaponry on targets inside Russia amid a fresh Russian attack on northeastern Kharkiv and fighting personnel and ammunition shortages, the unexpected deployment of the Russian navy so close to the United States follows.
From Key West in the southern state of Florida, where the US operates a naval aviation station, Havana, Cuba sits just 160 km (100 miles). Referring to the Western engagement in the Russia-Ukraine crises, Benjamin Gedan, director of the Latin America program at the Washington, DC-based Wilson Centre think tank, told the press that “The warships are a reminder to Washington that it is unpleasant when an adversary meddles in your near abroad”.

He further stated that it also reminds Russian close allies in the Caribbean including Cuba and Venezuela that they still have their back in a time of need.

The former Cold War rival, the US declared in a statement through its National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, that such naval exercises were routine and nothing more. Sullivan further confirmed that Russia is not planning any missile installations in Cuba but still, the US will remain vigilant. Washington stated that the visit was not a threat; nonetheless, on June 13, the United States Southern Command announced that a fast-attack submarine from the United States landed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as part of a planned and normal port visit. Another guard ship from the Canadian Navy was also at Havana at the same time. On June 14, the Canadian government announced that the ship had arrived, which is a demonstration of the “capable and deployable” nature of the Canadian military.

During the era of the Cold War, the USSR, and the United States came across an incident inches away from turning the conflict into a hot war notoriously known as the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Cuba was a significant ally of the then-Soviet Union during the Cold War; when Moscow replied to a US missile deployment in Turkey by moving ballistic missiles to Cuba, the standoff brought the world almost to nuclear war. Cuba has kept ties to Russia and the two nations have grown closer following the fall of the Soviet Union in a 2022 conference between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel. For Havana, the ties is largely driven by economic need since it battles with shortages of everything from food and medicine to fuel. The US has maintained a financial blockade and trade embargo on Cuba since 1960.

Russia offered to assist Havana in initiatives ranging from sugar production to infrastructure, renewable energy, and tourism. Russia in March provided 90,000 metric tons of Russian oil to Cuba to help ease shortages.

Creating a Russian maritime facility in Cuba has significant geopolitical implications for the United States. This operation, which highlights Moscow’s will and ability to launch attacks in the Western Hemisphere close to US borders, might be interpreted as a significant assertion of Russian military prowess and geopolitical sway. The Russian navy soldiers positioned near the US continental area serve as a strategic counterbalance to NATO’s activities near Russian borders, highlighting the reciprocal nature of military posturing in international affairs. The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the Soviet Union put missiles in Cuba, made nuclear war much more likely. This event reminded Americans of how tense things were during the Cold War. Even though things may not be that bad right now, the fact that the Russian military is in Cuba makes us think about how future wars might be like the Cold War.

The strategic position of Russia’s navy in the area forces the US to change both its defensive and diplomatic policy. The statement says that Russia is ready to question US dominance in Latin American and Caribbean areas that have usually been US-owned. This move could make it more likely for Moscow and its neighbors to strengthen their ties, which would make it harder for the US to keep its influence in the area and keep the peace. Having Russian troops in Cuba could make things even worse between the US and Cuba diplomatically, which is already very tense. If the US military thinks the Russian fleet could be a threat, they might have to get ready even more and give forces in the area more weapons. If this happens, the race to make weapons could get worse or our present problems could get worse.

Being a part of the Russian fleet also influences world peace and relations. If this trend keeps up, other countries may do the same to try to change what’s happening in other countries. As a result, the way power is distributed around the world would become more difficult and unpredictable. The US might have to increase its diplomatic initiatives to fortify relationships and combat Russian influence in the Western Hemisphere and throughout the globe A more robust Russian military posture so near US borders might affect US politics as legislators and people consider what that would imply. Against US strategic objectives, the complex geopolitical scenario surrounding the arrival of the Russian fleet in Cuba calls for strong and decisive responses to safeguard regional stability and global security.

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