Cold War Games? Russian Spy Ship Docks Unannounced in Havana on Eve of Historic US-Cuba Talks 1

Arriving unnanounced: The Viktor Leonov CCB-175, a Russian Navy intelligence warship, is seen docked to a pier in Old Havana after sailing into the harbour on the eve of historic talks between the U.S. and Cuba (Getty Images)

Arriving unnanounced: The Viktor Leonov CCB-175, a Russian Navy intelligence warship, is seen docked to a pier in Old Havana after sailing into the harbour on the eve of historic talks between the U.S. and Cuba (Getty Images)

— Viktor Leonov moors up in Old Havana pier during key diplomatic talks 

— U.S. officials play down arrival saying it was ‘not unusual, not alarming’

By Simon Tomlinson for MailOnline

In a throwback to the Cold War, a Russian spy ship caused a stir after unexpectedly docking in Havana on the eve of historic talks between the U.S. and Cuba. There was nothing stealthy about the arrival of the Viktor Leonov CCB-175, which was moored to a pier in Old Havana where cruise ships often dock. But the visit was not officially announced by Cuban authorities.

The timing also raised eyebrows as it came on Tuesday, the eve of historic U.S-Cuba talks aimed at normalising diplomatic relations. U.S. officials in Washington played down the presence of the Russian vessel, saying it was perfectly legal and not at all out of the ordinary. ‘It’s not unprecedented. It’s not unusual. It’s not alarming,’ a defense official told AFP news agency.

The Vishnya or Meridian-class intelligence ship, which has a crew of around 200, went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet, according to Russian media. The vessel previously docked in Havana in February and March last year, staying there for a few days. Those visits were also unannounced.

The Russians said the visit was scheduled a long time ago and was yesterday opened up for the children of Russian diplomats. For Cubans, who became increasingly dependent on Russia after the 1959 revolution, the ship’s latest visit has taken them down memory lane. Raphael Hernandez told ABC News: ‘We have normal relations with Russia.

‘One day, when we have normal relations with U.S., we could have an American ship visiting.’

The highest-level U.S. delegation in 35 years will conclude two-day talks in Havana today with both sides cautioning an immediate breakthrough was unlikely.  Senior U.S. officials say they hope Cuba will agree to reopen embassies and appoint ambassadors in each other’s capitals in coming months. The United States also wants travel curbs on its diplomats lifted and unimpeded shipments to its mission in Havana.

During talks on Wednesday, the Americans vowed to continue granting safe haven to Cubans with special protections denied to other nationalities. Cuba complained the U.S. law promotes dangerous illegal immigration and protested against a separate U.S. program that encourages Cuban doctors to defect, calling it a ‘reprehensible brain drain practice.’

Read more: Cold War Spy Games?

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One comment

  1. Now come here, now! Why is the media writing about the arrival, in Cuba, of a Russian intelligence ship as if it were a mystery? Yes, a mystery as the media has expressed it? Yes, but a mystery for those not in the know.

    THE FACT IS, ON APRIL 25, 2014 the NTEB published the following report of the same exact event—which ocurred one day before the USA/Cuba talks—of such same Russian spy ship´s arrival, but which had also occured prior on February 27, 2014 one year ago too.

    This is what the NTEB verbatim stated in the report published on April 25, 2014:

    It also showed the picture of the same ship docked in Habana on Feb. 27, 2014 and below the picture it read: The Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov SSV-175, (the same one, they have the same old ship) is seen docked at a Habana port before leaving for Jacksonville, Florida to conduct spy missions on US naval bases

    Now here´s what Lt. Col. Tom Crosson, a United States Pentagon spokesman said about that same spy ship docking in Cuba over year ago:

    “We are aware that the Russian ships Viktor Leonov and Nikolay Chiker are currently operating in waters that are beyond U.S. territorial seas but near Cuba,” “We respect the freedom of all nations, as reflected in international law, to operate military vessels beyond the territorial seas of other nations.”

    The Leonov is an intelligence gathering ship outfitted with high-tech electronic spying gear. The Chiker is an ocean-going naval tug that has been accompanying the spy ship on its mission.

    Pentagon officials suspect the ships were part of a spying operation since March against the U.S. nuclear missile submarine base at Kings Bay, Ga. and other U.S. military facilities Both ships were detected operating off the coast of Florida near the U.S. Naval Station Mayport, Fla., which is south of the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.

    As if this wasn´t enough look what was published here in the United States for everyone to see in 2012 as published in RT

    “Defense officials say that a nuclear-powered Russian attack submarine sailed to within 200 miles of the United States last week and was granted safe harbor as Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast.”

    According to a report published this week by United States defense commentator Bill Gertz, a Russian Sierra-2 class submarine was spotted recently not too far away from Kings Bay, Georgia, where the United States stations its own ballistic and cruise missiles, including six underwater-capable vessels also powered by nuclear energy.

    One official, he reports, says:

    “A Russian electronic intelligence-gathering vessel was granted safe harbor” not far away in the commercial port of Jacksonville, Florida, which would still put it within listening range of any operations keeping from Kings Bay.

    Now if we already know this and if we have even collaborated with Russian intelligence spy vessels in time of hurricane and helped out to provide safe harbor and if we have disclosed and published about this as when a spy ship arrived in Cuba before to dock, what is NOW all the mystery type and scenario of hype as if were anything new, not limited to the fact that our United States Navy recognizes the freedom of all nations, as reflected in international maritime law, to operate military vessels beyond territorial seas of other nations.

    This is totally unimportant, and comes with the territory, we need to start operating on an intelligent (pun intended) level and basis and stop seeing things that really aren´t anything new, but where they´ve already been. Specially in themes that if inappropriately interpreted only serve to obstruct the U.S. government´s work in the re establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. Anything to the contrary is a political manipulation.

    Nuff said.

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