Cuba welcomes Russian warships carrying missiles, calls visit ‘standard practice’

A Russian navy frigate and a nuclear-powered submarine churned into Havana harbor on Wednesday, a stopover the U.S. and Cuba said posed no threat but which was widely seen as a Russian show of force as tensions rise over the Ukraine war.

Curious onlookers, fishermen and police lined the Malecon seafront boulevard under gray skies to welcome the ships as they passed the 400-year old Morro castle at the harbor’s entrance.

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The stopover coincides with Cuba’s worst social and economic crisis in decades, with shortages of everything from food, medicine and fuel and growing discontent on the streets.

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“This … has echoes of the Cold War, but unlike the first Cold War, the Cubans are drawn to Moscow not by ideological affinity but by economic necessity,” Leogrande said.

History looms large in Cuba, especially when it comes to Russia and its predecessor the Soviet Union.

The Cuban missile crisis erupted in 1962 when the Soviet Union responded to a U.S. missile deployment in Turkey by sending ballistic missiles to Cuba, sparking a standoff that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

The two countries are once again strengthening ties.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and his Cuban counterpart Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parrilla shake hands after a joint news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. (Natalia Kolesnikova/Pool Photo via AP).

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel visited Russian President Vladimir Putin for the fourth time in May, when he attended a military parade, wished Russian forces well in Ukraine and said Moscow could always count on Havana’s support.

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Russia in March delivered 90,000 metric tons of Russian oil to Cuba to help alleviate shortages, and has promised to help Havana in projects ranging from sugar production to infrastructure, renewable energy and tourism.

The history between the two nations was not lost on many of the Cubans who watched the Russian ships’ arrival.

“I have never seen a ship of that size so close,” said María Isabel Quesada, 50, of nearby Old Havana. “As a Cuban I feel safe, I feel satisfied … confident in having a very beautiful relationship between our countries.”

The Russian ships are expected to remain in Havana until June 17.

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: World