Excerpt from testimony today by General John Kelly, SOUTHCOM Commander, in the Senate Armed Services Committee:
"Periodically since 2008, Russia has pursued an increased presence in Latin America through propaganda, military arms and equipment sales, counter-drug agreements, and trade. Under President Putin, however, we have seen a clear return to Cold War-tactics. As part of its global strategy, Russia is using power projection in an attempt to erode U.S. leadership and challenge U.S. influence in the Western Hemisphere. Last year and again this year, a Russian intelligence ship docked in Havana multiple times while conducting operations in the Gulf of Mexico and along the east coast of the United States. Russia has courted Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua to gain access to air bases and ports for resupply of Russian naval assets and strategic bombers operating in the Western Hemisphere. Russian media also announced Russia would begin sending long-range strategic bombers to patrol the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, in an effort to 'monitor foreign powers’ military activities and maritime communications.'"
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