Putin’s Cuba stunt threatens to escalate as ex-KGB agent warns of ‘accidental launch’ | World | News by StuffsEarth

Estimated read time 6 min read

A former KGB agent has warned Vladimir Putin’s latest intimidation stunt near Cuba could potentially escalate into open conflict in the event of an “accidental launch”.

A Russian fleet made up of a frigate, a nuclear-powered submarine, an oil tanker and a rescue tug, crossed into Havana Bay after drills in the Atlantic Ocean.

US officials expect the Russian ships to remain in the region through the summer and possibly also stop in Venezuela.

Jack Barsky, who worked as a KGB spy for Russia, admitted he is “worried” about the situation, noting it could accidentally evolve into a confrontation with the United States.

Mr Barsky said: “Vladimir Putin is again up to his own tricks. He likes to scare people.

“It has to be seen against the background where Putin is stating that he’s fighting the West in the Ukraine.”

Russian ships have occasionally docked in Havana since 2008 when a group of Russian vessels entered Cuban waters in what state media described as the first such visit in almost two decades.

In 2015, a reconnaissance and communications ship arrived unannounced in Havana a day before the start of discussions between US and Cuban officials on the reopening of diplomatic relations.

A State Department spokesperson said that Russia’s port calls in Cuba are “routine naval visits,” while acknowledging its military exercises “have ratcheted up because of US support to Ukraine and exercise activity in support of our NATO allies.”

The timing of this year’s mission may serve Russia’s purposes, but it is also raising questions about whether Venezuela’s government may use it as an opportunity to shore up President Nicolás Maduro’s bid for a third term in the July 28 election.

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