Russia uses Cuba to make a point to the U.S.: Remember the 1962 missile crisis? | Opinion

The arrival at Havana harbor this week of three Russian military ships and a nuclear-powered submarine to take part in exercises in the Caribbean should set off alarm in Washington.

Officials told reporters that the exercises aren’t considered a threat to the U.S., but American ships have been deployed to shadow the Russian mini fleet.

It’s a good idea because Cuba and Russia watchers know the only exercise being staged in Cuban waters this week is a show-and-tell meant to remind the U.S. of what can happen when Cuba and Russia play together. Flashback to the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.

The “naval training’ mission is a clear message and reminder to the U.S. of Moscow’s foothold in or own hemisphere — thanks to Cuba, just 90 miles away from Florida.

These war games come at a time when the U.S. is considering continued financial support for Ukraine’s war against Russia. There have been reports that Ukraine has used U.S. weapons to strike inside Russia, according to the Associated Press. Putin is said to be livid.

So the Ukrainian war has now tangentially come to our hemisphere, thanks to Cuba’s government and by way of these “military exercises.”

With its ships and sub, Moscow, no doubt, hopes to rattle American leaders by flexing its muscles near Florida’s coastline, or by having its war ships brush up too close to our shores, as occurred Tuesday. The Russians are metaphorically firing a shot across the U.S.’s bow for its involvement in Ukraine.

Putin is big on messaging. We have seen him do it over and over in the dramatic murder and disappearances of his political enemies via poisonings and exploding airplanes.

While Russian-Cuban ties, and military exercises, are nothing new, the geopolitical context of these latest naval maneuvers is deeply concerning and recall the gravest days of the Cold War, when we came close to nuclear war because the Soviet Union had hidden missiles in Cuba.

The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the U.S. and Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear Armageddon. School kids in Florida were taught to hide under their metal desks to protect themselves from a nuclear fallout.

Back then, the discovery of Russian ballistic missiles in Cuba threatened America’s security and demonstrated how the Castro regime was willing to aid Moscow’s geopolitical aims regardless of the risks.

Now, in 2024, as tensions with Russia reach new heights over Ukraine, Cuba once again opens its doors to Russian warships with intention.

One can only assume these naval visits — there have been others involving nuclear submarines — serve as a strategic show of strength and proximity to the U.S.

For Cuba, its proximity to the U.S. is a strategic home run. So, the calculus is clear: enhance relations with Russia to make the U.S. nervous and get the Russians to help in Cuba’s neverending dire economy. They need oil, food and necessities.

In recent months, Putin reaffirmed his military support for the Cuban regime through a series of agreements that included oil supplies, wheat sales and the reestablishment of flights between Russia and Cuba. President Miguel Díaz-Canel and other Cuba officials have recently visited Russia.

And the Kremlin recently finalized a loan for Cuba’s steel factory and pledged to finance the completion of three new thermoelectric plants using Russian technology. Interesting.

Just as it did in the 1960s, the Cuban government became the third wheel in a U.S.-Russia dispute. We hope the Biden administration’s cool tone is an act.

America must make it clear to both Russia and Cuba that proxy confrontations and naval power plays in our hemisphere will not be tolerated.

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