Thu | Jul 18, 2024

Jitters of Russian flotilla in Cuba

Published:Monday | June 17, 2024 | 12:06 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

A small flotilla of Russian naval vessels, including a nuclear-powered submarine, a frigate, a fleet oil tanker and a salvage tug, sailed into Havana’s cruise ship terminal on June 12. The berths are no longer used by US cruise liners, which were banned by Washington in 2019.

Since the Cuban revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro overthrew their dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, there has been constant diplomatic tension on either side of the Straits of Florida. Shortly after President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961, his Bay of Pigs invasion proved a complete disaster and humiliation for the new administration in Washington. The White House was then thrown into complete panic mode in October 1962 after discovering that Russia was building launch sites in Cuba capable of firing intermediate-range missiles towards the US. The Cuban Missile Crisis is well-documented as the closest the two superpowers have come to nuclear war up to now, but no similar fear was aroused by the small Russian naval flotilla presently visiting Cuba. In fact, US President Joe Biden was away in Italy attending the annual G7 summit, finding more ways in financing Ukraine – despite its shocking history of corruption – to prolong NATO’s proxy war against Russia.

It is ironic that the conflict in Ukraine came about because of its plans to join NATO, thereby making Russia feel threatened by potentially hostile missiles and armaments right on their border. There was far greater widespread panic seizing the entire US in 1962, when Russian missiles were photographed nearby in San Cristobal, Cuba; for several years afterwards I traversed the Old Bahama Channel along Cuba’s north coast, sailing on American-owned freighters which were routinely buzzed by Russian MiG jets based in Cuba.

Although politicians are loathed to admit the truth, the entire horrible situation in Ukraine has come about because of broken promises by US and NATO governments over the years. When West and East Germany became one country in 1990, then US Secretary of State James Baker publicly assured then Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev that with reunified Germany, now a NATO member, there would be no further expansion towards Russia. Baker had emphasised “not one inch eastwards”, and President George H.W. Bush was adamant about that agreement. However, his successor, Bill Clinton, and every president since have broken that promise by expanding NATO, specifically to include Central and Eastern European countries which became independent after the 1991 dissolution of the USSR, and more recently some Balkan and Baltic states. Thoughts of what should have been, and what could have been, were floating around in my head as the small Russian flotilla arrived in Cuba.

BERNIE SMITH

Parksville, BC

Canada