The Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov holds exercises in the Red Sea in April 2023.

The Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov holds exercises in the Red Sea in April 2023. (Russian Defence Ministry Press Office, TASS, Sipa USA)

(Tribune News Service) — The Cuban armed forces announced Thursday that Russia will dock three naval vessels and one nuclear-powered submarine at the port in Havana next week.

U.S. intelligence officials assess that none of the vessels will be carrying nuclear weapons, and the Biden administration is dismissing the Russian movements as a messaging ploy in response to U.S. assistance to Ukraine.

But the deployment is expected to be part of a larger Russian military exercise in the Caribbean over the coming weeks, involving both warships and aircraft, that could be the most significant Russian activity in the region in at least five years.

What ships will Russia deploy to Cuba?

The main warship in the Russian deployment is the Admiral Gorshkov, a state-of-the-art frigate that is the lead ship in a new class of six combat vessels Moscow has commissioned through 2025.

Gorshkov-class ships can serve multiple roles for the Russian Navy, capable of performing anything from long-range attacks to escort missions or anti-submarine warfare — duties often reserved for destroyer-class ships. They are equipped with Russia’s most advanced weapons and sensor technology and can each carry a single attack helicopter on board.

Just last month, a video shared on social media by the Russian Armed Forces showed a NATO reconnaissance aircraft in the crosshairs of Gorshkov’s crew in the North Atlantic.

The second Russian ship in the deployment is the Nikolay Chiker, a tug point and icebreaker that last year was tracked by British authorities while stalking critical oil and gas pipelines near the Scottish coastal region of Shetland.

The second ship, the Pashin, is an oil tanker that is part of the Russian Navy’s Arctic fleet.

What kind of submarine is involved?

Cuban authorities said that Moscow is also sending the Kazan, a Yasen-class nuclear-powered submarine, to Havana as part of the deployment.

The Kazan is said to be a state-of-the-art submarine, part of a new class of vessels intended to replace Russia’s aging Soviet-era nuclear submarines, that are capable of carrying and firing nuclear cruise missiles. On a routine basis, they are presumed to be carrying land-attack cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine missiles, with a crew of up to 85 sailors.

In April, Russian-state media said the Kazan conducted a live-fire exercise, firing a conventional cruise missile at a coastal target in the Barents Sea.

©2024 Miami Herald.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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