A Russian Warship and a U.S. Submarine Arrive in Cuba

The Perekop – whose visit was announced by Marrero last June – belongs to the Baltic Fleet. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, 11 July 2023 — Without any senior Cuban official receiving its crew, the Russian warship Perekop anchored on Tuesday morning in the port of Havana. The policemen, who moved restlessly along the dock and blocked access to the ship with their patrol cars, prevented Cubans from approaching the mammoth hull of the ship, as this newspaper found.

At the same time, the Cuban Foreign Ministry issued an official statement about the passage through the U.S. naval base of Guantánamo, from July 5 to 8, of a nuclear-powered submarine, as part of the “provocative escalation” of the United States.

“The presence there of a nuclear submarine at the moment forces us to question what is the military reason for the event in this peaceful region of the world, against what objective it is directed and what strategic purpose does it pursue,” argued the text that, however, refrained from alluding to   a military ship with a capacity of 500 Russian soldiers that, days later, arrives in Cuba on the second anniversary of the massive protests of July 11, 2021.

The official press, which published on the front page the message of the Foreign Ministry, has been succinct in reporting the arrival of the Perekop. According to Cubadebate, the crew was received by Cuban captain José Luis Souto and the Russian ambassador to Cuba, Víctor Koronelli.

The simple ceremony – topped off by the firing of several salvos from the fortress of La Cabaña – was not attended by President Miguel Díaz-Canel, Prime Minister Manuel Marrero or any senior official of the Armed Forces, whose head, Álvaro López Miera, recently visited Moscow. In the “full program” of activities there will be a courtesy visit to the head of the Cuban Navy and the governor of Havana.

Cubans who wish to visit the Perekop will be able to do so this Wednesday, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and on Thursday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Perekop – whose visit was announced by Marrero last June – belongs to the Baltic Fleet and usually travels with hundreds of cadets from the naval academies of the cities of St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Baltiysk. It is supposed to bring to the Island “a humanitarian cargo,” according to Russian official media, but so far it has not been clarified what the aid consists of or why it is being delivered.

The military collaboration between Havana and Moscow has developed in an atmosphere of secrecy. Although General Lopez Miera has joined the caravan of senior Cuban officials who have gone to the Kremlin for help, little or nothing is known about his meeting with Sérguei Shoigu, his Russian counterpart.

The Perekop senior staff is expected to spend several days in Havana as part of a process of “cultural and business” exchange with the Island.

However, Cuba Siglo 21  warned on Monday that the arrival of the ship hides “other interests,” the result of a conspiracy between the regime of Vladimir Putin and that of Havana. In a dossier signed by former Cuban General Rafael del Pino,* the organization warns that it is Russia and not the United States that intends to “cause” military tension in Caribbean waters.

*Translator’s note: Rafael del Pino, 84, was a General in the Cuban Air Force. He defected to the U.S. with his wife and children in 1987 by piloting a civilian aircraft.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.