A fleet of Russian naval warships has arrived in Cuba’s main harbor for a five-day mission of peace and fraternity, an official says. The Black Sea Fleet’s flagship cruiser, the Moskva, along with the Northern Fleet's "Vice Admiral Kulakov" (a Udaloy-class destroyer), and a fuel tanker arrived in the Havana harbor on Saturday, during a mission to extend peace to the Cuban people, a naval spokesman told RIA Novosti on Saturday. The ships were saluted by a parade of military cannons, a naval band and a few hundred people as they pulled into the Bay of Havana. During their stay, the ships will be available for public viewing and tourist attraction.
“We Cubans were for a long time allied to them, and we still are their allies…. This is a good reception; it's great to receive them,” said a Havana resident.Last year, Russia announced plans to expand its military presence in certain Soviet-era ally countries including Cuba. In February, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made a three-day official visit to Cuba where he met Cuban President Raul Castro and his brother, Fidel. Moscow’s decision to flex its military muscles comes at a time when tensions between Russia and the West are on the rise. Havana and Washington have been at odds since the Cuban revolution, led by Fidel Castro, toppled Fulgencio Batista’s regime in 1959. The United States imposed a partial trade embargo on the Caribbean island nation in October 1960. Washington imposed a full trade embargo on Cuba in February 1962. GMA/SS