A fleet of Russian warships entered Cuban waters on Wednesday as they prepare to hold military drills in the Caribbean.

The deployment is likely a warning to President Biden after he gave approval for Ukrainian forces to strike some targets within Russia using U.S. weaponry, according to Rebekah Koffler, strategic intelligence analyst and author of “Putin’s Playbook.” Russian President Vladimir Putin is telling Washington, “we can touch you,” Koffler said.

“Putin wants to be close to the U.S. homeland at this time when the Russia-Ukraine crisis is on a highly escalatory trajectory – given Biden’s authorization to Ukraine.


Suppose something goes wrong and Ukraine strikes critical targets in Russia close to major cities. In that case, the Russian military can enable the Cubans to strike targets inside the U.S. or strike U.S. interests,” she said.

Three Russian warships arrived at Cuba’s Havana Bay on Wednesday, greeted by a 21-cannon salute. A nuclear-powered submarine was also expected to arrive after them. Russia has said the submarine, the Kazan, is not carrying nuclear weapons.

The arrival of the ships comes after Putin suggested he may authorize strikes on the U.S. via proxy countries, which he says is precisely what the U.S. is doing in Ukraine.

“Most of all, the warships are a reminder to Washington that it is unpleasant when an adversary meddles in your near abroad,” said Benjamin Gedan, director of the Latin America program at the Washington-based Wilson Center think tank.

“It also reminds Russia’s friends in the region, including U.S. antagonists Cuba and Venezuela, that Moscow is on their side.” Putin made a direct threat to supply weapons to nearby neighbors of the U.S. last week.

“If [the U.S.] considers it possible to deliver such weapons to the combat zone to launch strikes on our territory and create problems for us, why don’t we have the right to supply weapons of the same type to some regions of the world where they can be used to launch strikes on sensitive facilities of the countries that do it to Russia?” he asked.


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