Washington has dismissed Moscow’s claims of sending military assets to Cuba and Venezuela as a “bluff.”
A senior Russian official has refused to rule out military deployments in Cuba and Venezuela if tensions with the West continue to escalate over Ukraine.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that he “neither confirms nor rules out” the possibility of Russia sending military assets to Latin America if the United States and its allies do not reduce military activity on Russia’s doorstep.
“It all depends on the actions of our American counterparts,” Ryabkov said in an interview with Russian television network RTVI, citing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning that if Western powers don’t listen to them, Moscow will Unspecified “military-technical measures” may be taken. need.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan dismissed the claims about a possible Russian deployment to Cuba and Venezuela, calling it “a rant in public comment.”
“If Russia moves in this direction, we will respond decisively,” he told reporters in Washington.
After the first election in 2000, Putin shut down a Soviet-built military surveillance facility in Cuba as he sought to improve relations with Washington.
But Moscow has stepped up engagement with Cuba in recent years, and in December 2018 Russia briefly sent two nuclear-capable Tu-160 bombers to Venezuela in a show of support for President Nicolas Maduro.
Cuban Missile Crisis Comparison
Thursday’s dispute came as a week of Western-led diplomacy aimed at easing tensions between Russia and Ukraine drew to a close without a breakthrough.
U.S.-Russia talks in Geneva on Monday and related NATO-Russia talks Meeting Wednesday’s meeting in Brussels was in response to Russia’s massive buildup of troops near Ukraine, which the West fears could be a prelude to an invasion.
Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, has denied plans to invade its neighbor again.
Instead, the Kremlin accused NATO of threatening its territory and demanded that the military alliance never accept Ukraine or any other former Soviet state as a new member.
Washington and its allies this week firmly rejected the demand because they would not back down, but NATO and Russian negotiators agreed to leave the door open for further talks on arms control and other issues aimed at reducing the likelihood of hostilities.
Ryabkov last month compared current tensions in Ukraine to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, when the Soviet Union deployed missiles to Cuba and the United States imposed a naval blockade around the island.
The crisis ended after then-U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed that Moscow would withdraw its missiles in exchange for Washington’s pledge not to invade Cuba and withdraw U.S. missiles from Turkey.