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U.S. Navy Submarine Arrives In Guantanamo Amid Russian Drills

Russia's Kazan nuclear-powered submarine arrives at the port of Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. A fleet of Russian warships reached Cuban waters on Wednesday ahead of planned military exercise

A U.S. Navy submarine, the USS Helena, has made a strategic stop in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a demonstration of strength amidst the presence of a fleet of Russian warships gathering for planned military exercises in the Caribbean. The nuclear-powered fast attack submarine arrived near the U.S. base in Cuba on Thursday, following the entry of a Russian frigate, a nuclear-powered submarine, an oil tanker, and a rescue tug into Havana Bay after conducting drills in the Atlantic Ocean.

The visit by the USS Helena is described as a 'routine port visit' as the submarine traverses through the region under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Southern Command. Pentagon officials have been closely monitoring the Russian drills and have emphasized that they do not pose a direct threat to the United States.

Despite the lack of immediate threat, the timing of the Russian exercises is notable, occurring shortly after President Joe Biden authorized Ukraine to utilize U.S.-provided weapons to defend Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city. Russian President Vladimir Putin responded by hinting at potential 'asymmetrical steps' that could be taken in various parts of the world.

Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh acknowledged the possibility of increased Russian activity around the United States during such global exercises. The ongoing drills are being conducted in international waters, with expectations that the Russian ships will remain in the region throughout the summer and may also make a stop in Venezuela.

Russia's historical alliances with Venezuela and Cuba have led to periodic appearances of Russian warships and aircraft in the Caribbean. Russian vessels have intermittently docked in Havana since 2008, with notable instances such as a group of Russian ships entering Cuban waters in 2008 after a two-decade absence and a reconnaissance and communications ship arriving unannounced in Havana in 2015, just before discussions between U.S. and Cuban officials on the restoration of diplomatic relations.

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