US, Canada to monitor Russian fleet now in Cuba

US, Canada to monitor Russian fleet now in Cuba

Sailors fire M4 rifles during a low-light shoot on the flight deck aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham in April (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class J. Keith Wilson)

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is tracking a fleet of Russian naval ships visiting Havana, Cuba, and then stopping at unspecified ports in the western hemisphere, officials said Wednesday.

On Monday, Russia’s first-in-class frigate Admiral Gorshkov arrived in Havana. The Admiral Gorshkov was joined by support vessel Elbrus and salvage tug Nikolay Chiker, the Navy said.

On Tuesday, the destroyer USS Jason Dunham was position about 50 nautical miles north of Havana and about 72 miles from Key West, Fla., operating in the Straits of Florida in international waters, Pentagon officials said,

“We are aware of the deployment of the Russian ship Gorshkov and are taking steps to actively track it,” U.S. Northern Command said in a statement. “We won’t discuss all measures being taken, but NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) is conducting air operations in defense of the US and Canada and USNORTHCOM has deployed maritime assets to track Gorshkov.”

According to Russian media reports, this Gorshkov is on an around-the-world cruise, making ports-of-all in Djibouti, Sri Lanka, China, Ecuador, and Columbia before passing through the Panama Canal on June 17, 2019. No Cuba stop was mentioned. It is unclear if the ship will visit Venezuela.

The ship is the first of a new generation of Russian surface vessels that developed since the end of the Cold War, according to military publications.

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