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IPFS News Link • Russia

Russia deploying air and sea assets for military exercises in Caribbean, U.S. official says

•, Michael Wilner

Russia is preparing to deploy aircraft and combat naval vessels to the Caribbean to conduct military exercises in the coming weeks, its first exercises in the Western Hemisphere involving both air and sea activity in five years, a senior administration official told McClatchy and the Miami Herald.

The Biden administration is not expressing concern over the deployment, with the official stating it poses "no direct threat to the United States." But the administration believes Moscow intends to use the exercises as a "messaging tactic" after President Joe Biden gave Ukraine permission last week to fire U.S.-made weapons across its border into Russia to defend its territory.

The official said the administration expects Moscow will "conduct heightened naval and air activity near the United States" that will likely include port calls by combat naval vessels in Cuba, and possibly Venezuela — two longstanding Russian allies that have seen occasional visits from Russian naval assets in the past two decades. The exercises may also include "aircraft deployments" and flights in the region, the official said.

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, a second U.S. official said.

Russia has sailed ships into the Western Hemisphere every year from 2013 to 2020, and has sent flights through the region that have violated the airspace of U.S. allies. But the anticipated activity would be the first coordinated air and sea exercise of its kind since 2019, during the Trump administration, the official noted.