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U.S. Navy Tracks Russian Fleet Near Florida En Route to Cuba

The U.S. Navy has deployed warships and aircraft to monitor a Russian naval flotilla that recently passed within 30 miles of South Florida’s coast, according to statements from U.S. officials to McClatchy and the Miami Herald.

Last week, Moscow dispatched three ships and a nuclear-powered submarine to the Caribbean for extensive military air and naval exercises—the first such drills in five years. These exercises, which began on Tuesday in the Atlantic, involve a Russian hypersonic-capable frigate and a nuclear-capable submarine simulating an attack on an enemy fleet. While it remains unclear if the frigate is armed with hypersonic missiles, U.S. intelligence has determined that none of the Russian vessels are carrying nuclear weapons.

Despite the Biden administration’s lack of concern over this activity, it has authorized the deployment of three powerful destroyers and a submarine reconnaissance aircraft to the region, a U.S. Northern Command official confirmed. “We have been actively monitoring the Russian ships as they transit the Atlantic Ocean within international waters,” the official stated. “Air and maritime assets under U.S. Northern Command are conducting operations to ensure the defense of the United States and Canada. Russia’s deployments are part of routine naval activity, posing no direct threat or concern to the United States.”

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The U.S. response includes three guided-missile destroyers—the USS Truxtun, USS Donald Cook, and USS Delbert D. Black—along with the Coast Guard cutter Stone and a Boeing P-8 maritime patrol aircraft. A senior administration official confirmed last week that the U.S. Navy would maintain a posture to monitor and track the Russian fleet throughout the exercises.

Russian ships may also make a port call in Venezuela, according to multiple officials. The Biden administration expects these exercises to lead to global naval drills by Russia, with deployments from the Caribbean to the South Pacific. The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces announced that the Russian missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov, the nuclear submarine Kazan, the oil tanker Pashin, and the salvage tug Nikolai Chiker will arrive on June 12 and stay for a week.

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Website marinetraffic.com has tracked the positions of both U.S. and Russian ships, with the Russian sea rescue tug Nikolay Chiker spotted 26 nautical miles from Key Largo on Tuesday morning. U.S. officials have acknowledged the proximity of the Russian ships but emphasized that they have remained in international waters. “We have been closely monitoring the ships’ paths,” a U.S. official stated. “At no point have the ships or submarine posed a direct threat to the United States.”

Global Naval Deployments

The Port of Havana will be notably crowded this week, with the Russian warships and nuclear-powered submarine expected on Wednesday. Additionally, HMCS Margaret Brooke, a Royal Canadian Navy patrol vessel, will arrive on Friday and stay until the 17th, coinciding with the departure of the Russian ships. The Communist Party newspaper Granma noted the Canadian ship’s visit as a celebration of “50 years of cooperative ties” with Canada and the “bilateral collaboration for peace in our region,” without mentioning the concurrent presence of Russian naval assets.

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A Venezuelan training ship, the AB Simón Bolívar, will also visit Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second-largest city, from June 15 to 19.

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