Washington expects the Russian vessels to participate in air and sea drills with the use of long-range bombers in the region Russian Navy frigate Admiral Gorshkov © Russian Ministry of Defense

American ships will be deployed to tail Russian warships and a nuclear submarine off the coast of Cuba this week, CBS News reported on Monday, citing US officials.

A Russian naval detachment consisting of the frigate Admiral Gorshkov, nuclear-powered submarine Kazan, oil tanker Pashin, and salvage tug Nikolay Chiker, will pay an official visit to Cuba from Wednesday until next Monday, Havana’s Foreign Ministry announced last week.

Two US Navy destroyers and two vessels towing sonar equipment behind them are following the Russian submarine, CBS wrote, citing an unnamed US official. Another destroyer and a US Coast Guard cutter are shadowing the rest of the Russian Navy detachment, they added.

Moscow will launch a series of air and naval exercises in the Caribbean in the weeks following the visit, in the first set of simultaneous air and sea drills Russia has carried out in the region since 2019, another US official told the news network. The maneuvers will take place over the summer ahead of a worldwide naval exercise in autumn, they wrote.

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White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby told CBS that the US believes the visit is Moscow’s reaction to American actions relating to the Ukraine conflict.

“Clearly this is them signaling their displeasure about what we’re doing for Ukraine,” Kirby said, adding “we’re going to watch it, we’re going to monitor it, it’s not unexpected.” The US has “no indication and no expectation that nuclear weapons will be at play here in these exercises or embarked on those vessels,” he stressed.

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US aiming to put nuclear pressure on Russia and China – media

Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba brought the US and the USSR to the brink of all-out conflict in 1962. Moscow had stationed the missiles in the island nation, some 140km from the coast of the US, in retaliation for the deployment of American nuclear weapons in Türkiye.

Havana stressed that none of the Russian vessels are carrying nuclear weapons for the upcoming visit, nor pose any threat to the region, and are strictly abiding by all international regulations to which Cuba is a party.

The Russian Defense Ministry has yet to comment on the visit, but in May it announced that a naval detachment headed by the frigate Admiral Gorshkov had set out on a “long-distance expedition.” The goal will be to “show the flag” and “ensure a naval presence in operationally important areas,” it stated. (RT)