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Here’s why a Russian warship is 90 miles off US coast in Cuba

Admiral Gorshkov Russian frigate. (Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation/Released)
June 26, 2019

An armed Russian warship docked at a harbor in Cuba on Monday as Russia warned the U.S. against causing a repeat of the Cuban missile crisis.

One of Russia’s newest, most advanced warships – the Admiral Gorshkov – docked in Havana some 90 miles from the southern tip of Florida, amid Russia’s warnings to the U.S. about deploying missiles near Russia, the Associated Press reported Monday.

The ship, which is armed with missiles, defense systems and other weaponry, entered the Caribbean Sea around June 18 along with a logistics ship, a sea tanker and a rescue tug.

The Russian navy had said the ships planned to make port calls at several Caribbean locations, but did not mention which ones were planned.

The Russian ships were greeted at the Havana port by the Cuban military, which conducted a 21-gun salute.

U.S.-Russia tensions have been challenged by various conflicts, including Russia’s interference in U.S. elections and the United States’ involvement in Venezuela. Russia has also warned the U.S. against its planned deployment of missile defense systems in Eastern Europe.

“We could find ourselves in a situation where we have a rocket crisis close not just to the crisis of the 1980s but close to the [Cuban] crisis,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russia’s RIA news agency, according to Reuters.

“If things get as far as an actual deployment on the ground of these sorts of systems, then the situation won’t just get more complicated, it will escalate right to the limit,” Ryabkov added.

The 1962 Cuban missile crisis was triggered when the U.S. identified Soviet missiles deployed to Cuba, prompting the U.S. to deploy military resources to defend against such a close threat.

The two countries were on the brink of military confrontation when they agreed to remove their respective missiles – the Soviets pulling theirs from Cuba, and the U.S. pulling theirs from Turkey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the U.S. that Russia would deploy missiles near the U.S. if U.S. missile deployments encroached on the Russian border.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy types of weapons which can be used not only in respect of those territories from which the direct threat to us originates, but also in respect of those territories where the centers of decision-making are located,” he said at the time.

Earlier this month, Putin lamented on the worsening relationship with the U.S.

“Unfortunately, we cannot say anything of the kind about our relations with the U.S.,” he told state media outlet Mir TV. “They are in fact deteriorating, getting worse by the hour,” he added, citing “several dozen” U.S. sanctions against Russia.