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Russia is expected to begin naval, air exercises in Caribbean, U.S. official says

NATO kicks off annual drills in shadow of war
NATO kicks off annual military drills in shadow of Russia's war 04:51

The U.S. expects Russia to begin air and naval exercises in the Caribbean in the coming weeks, according to a U.S. official.  

The exercises, which will involve Russian warships and long-range bombers, will be the first simultaneous air and naval maneuvers Russia has conducted in the Caribbean since 2019. The U.S. is interpreting them as a response to American support for Ukraine and stepped-up U.S. exercises with NATO allies. 

However, the exercises have been planned for some time, the official said, and it seems unlikely they are a response to President Biden's recent partial lifting of the ban against the use by Ukraine of U.S.-provided weapons against targets inside Russia. The Miami Herald first reported Russia's expected plans for air and naval exercises in the Caribbean.

Last week, the U.S. cleared Ukraine to use the weapons on the Russian side of the border near the besieged Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. The Biden administration narrowly tailored the U.S. permission to the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation and restricted the use of the weapons to targeting Russian artillery sites and other weaponry aimed at them around Kharkiv. The Ukrainians are still not permitted to use U.S.-provided long-range equipment, such as the ATACMs, to hit Russia beyond that point, in order to avoid the perception of a direct U.S. escalation with Russia. 

The Russian exercises are not considered to be a direct threat to the U.S., the official said. The Russian ships are expected to make port calls in Cuba and possibly Venezuela, and the exercises will last over the summer, culminating in a worldwide naval exercise in the fall. 

Margaret Brennan contributed to this report.

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