Russian Navy exercises off Cuba as Serbia hails friendship with Russia

RUSSIA / FSU POLITICS - In Brief 12 Jun 2024 by Alex Teddy

On June 13 three warships and a nuclear-powered submarine arrived in Cuba. They will conduct exercises until June 18. Two of the vessels can carry nuclear missiles. One of the ships is carrying Tsirkon missiles. Cuba says none of the Russian ships in its territorial waters are carrying nuclear arms. The US has also said it does not feel threatened by the drills. The United States is sending ships to shadow the Russians. Relations between Cuba and Russia are not as cordial as they were in the Cold War. However, Russians still travel visa free to Cuba. There is a direct Moscow-Havana flight.  Moreover, some Cubans have volunteered for the Russian Army during the Ukraine War. Cuba abstained on the UN resolution about the war. Cuba's location makes it a vital listening post for Russia. In 2015 Cuba was still USD 35 billion in debt to Russia. Russia forgave 90% of that. Pundits believe that Russia wants to remind the West that Russia is still capable of retaliating if the West attacks. Moreover, Russia is demonstrating what its navy is capable of. Putin likes to demonstrate that Russia is far from friendless. In some ways he is nostalgic for the Soviet era despite rejecting its economic model. Until 1991 Moscow was the ideological center of the world for a quarter of the world's population. On June 13 the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Vulin was in Moscow for a meeting. Vulin publicly lauded Russia for its security cooperation. He said Russia is needed to assist in the fight against international crime. Serbia is the only country in Europe that has flight to and from Russia.

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