Russian warships, including nuclear sub, missile frigate, will arrive in Cuba next week

A general view in 2023 of the Russian military frigate "Admiral Gorshkov" docked at the port in Richards Bay. (Guillem Sartorio/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

Three Russian Navy ships and a nuclear-powered submarine will arrive at the Port of Havana for an official visit next week, the Cuban armed forces said in a statement Thursday, confirming the military exercises first disclosed by U.S. officials on Wednesday.

The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces said the Russian missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov, the nuclear sub Kazan, the oil tanker Pashin and the salvage tug Nikolai Chiker will arrive on June 12 and stay for a week.

ADVERTISING


The Cuban military said the visit by the Russian Navy ships is part of the “friendly” relations between the two countries, complies with international law and does not pose a security threat to the region because “none of the ships carry nuclear weapons.”

A U.S. official told McClatchy and the Miami Herald on Wednesday that the exercises are expected to include “heightened naval and air activity near the United States,” involving both Russian aircraft and combat naval vessels — the first coordinated air and sea exercise by Russia in the Western Hemisphere in five years.

“While we are disappointed that Cuba has likely agreed to host visiting Russian ships, we are not surprised,” the official said Thursday. While one of the ships is a nuclear-powered submarine, the official said that the U.S. intelligence community “assesses it is not carrying nuclear weapons, and poses no direct threat to the national security of the United States.”

Administration officials suspect that Cuba approved the Russian port call “at least in part” over an incident last year in which a U.S. nuclear submarine docked at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, angering the Cubans, the U.S. official said.