September 9th, 2008
09:54 AM ET

Russia sends warships to the Caribbean

Matthew Chance
CNN Senior International Correspondent

It’s like a flashback to the old days of the cold war, isn't it? Russian nuclear warships probing U.S. naval defenses, anti-submarine aircraft being deployed by the Kremlin in a country vehemently opposed to Washington, in this case the Venezuela of Hugo Chavez.

Of course, Moscow says it’s announcement of naval exercises with Caracas is in no way related to the escalating tensions with the U.S. over Russia's invasion of the former soviet state of Georgia last month, a U.S. ally and enthusiastic NATO-wannabe. But does anyone really believe that?

What I do know is that Russians see this as a totally legitimate answer to the appearance of U.S. ships in the Black Sea to deliver aid to war ravaged Georgia (many Russians are convinced the aid deliveries are a cover to rearm the tiny country).

Oddly enough, I was chatting to Vladimir Putin about this very issue the other day.

In fact, it was the only time I've ever chatted with Russia's powerful prime minister, and the first time CNN has chatted with the former KGB agent in eight years!

Still, chat we did, about those U.S. ships.

Here we are in Sochi, he said, and not 100 km (60 miles) away from us, your warships are patrolling. These same ships carry missiles, Putin said, whose range is 100 km (60 miles).

How should Russia feel about this, he asked. These are not our ships off your coast!

Well maybe Putin now wants Americans to know how it feels.

Before you run for your nuclear bunker, though, remember we are not on the brink of nuclear holocaust, even if Russia's naval squadron, of four or five rusting ships, ever makes it to the Caribbean Sea.

Things may be feeling much chillier than before in relations between Russia and the West, especially the United States.

But make no mistake, this is still no cold war.

Filed under: Global 360° • Matthew Chance
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Michel

    Russian warships in the caribean is just another fact that can be put on G.Bush's Curiculum vitae.He's the cause of most of the trouble on the planet today.

    September 10, 2008 at 9:36 am |
  2. Heather

    One of the main reasons why the cold car ended between the US and Russia is because after we had been spying on the Russian military with our subs for over 20 years we found out that the Russians had no interest in attacking us.They were only concerned with protecting their country from an attack by us. We have no reason to attack them. Thank goodness we did spy or we would have had WWIII. The entire idea is rediculous. There are other things to worry about like uh global terrorism.

    You know its strange how we all live on a planet called Earth and its the year 2008,yet some people act like they are living on a different planet and in a different time. Maybe mental illness explains that.

    September 9, 2008 at 6:31 pm |
  3. Jose

    The world knows that Russia is not known to provide its allies with humanitarian aids unlike the U.S.,however , it has the notoriety of giving military hardware and other instruments for death and destructions. So, without second thought, the U.S. should keep a tough stance in warning Russia of its plans to have naval exercises with Venezuela . The U.S. has to confer its allies in the americas on how to confront the situation in a diplomatic manner short of a showdown. Undoubtedly, the present administration is very competent to assess and handle this situation.

    September 9, 2008 at 5:52 pm |
  4. MW

    This is exactly why we DON'T need trigger-happy Bush clones McCain /Palin in office. Obama will try to handle things in a diplomatic manner before sending troops over to kill.

    September 9, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
  5. Marcus

    I gusses the Russians have figured out that we are way to streached out in the Middle East to be of any threat to them......

    September 9, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  6. Kirill from VA

    (Hey post my comment you wall street owned bastards!)

    Russia is doing pretty good so far in diplomatic maneuvering with the US. This Venezuela marine training means nothing but a showoff of power. And it wont harm to either, just feels good for the spectators from the both sides.The same reason why US is bringing its warships to the black sea together with other NATO ships.
    At least Russia is not armoring the Caribbeans, like U.S. did and does Georgia. Barack Obama told that it would have helped if U.S. didnt stick their nose into other countries' affairs, to have some credibility for when U.S. teaches Russia how to behave in the Caucasus.
    And overall the war in Georgia was used by McCain's campaign to increase their rating, in which they succeeded. So let Bush keep talking about the evil Russians, and he will draw attention of millions of crazy Americans and push McCain through on the elections.

    September 9, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  7. Candy

    The reference to the Cuban Missle Crisis, reminded me that Russia provoked the whole mess because they felt Kennedy was a wimp and wouldn't react. If we were electing Kennedy, I'd feel fine, but there is no way Obama will send troops anywhere near Russia when Putin decides he wants to take what he wants. All of Europe won't do a thing either because they need the oil. Obama announced yesterday to the world that the US military is overstretched and can't handle a war in Iraq & Afghanistan at the same time. And troops in both theatres are not active in ongoing combat. I can see Russia, Korea, Venezuela, Iran and the terrorists salivating at the thought of Obama/Biden. His blunders will make Bush look like a genius. I can't wait, because I'll get to throw it in his supporters faces with "I told you so!"

    September 9, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  8. txkboy

    Putin will do whatever it takes to maintain control of his country and, more so, to show the politbureau that he only can will his nation. Even to the point of bringing warships into the Western hemisphere.

    September 9, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  9. Orting Man

    This is why we need McCain in office!
    Obama would not know what to do!

    September 9, 2008 at 1:34 pm |
  10. Vlad

    Don't worry, the 1990 built ships will make it, the bases will be built by Russia in Venezuela and Cuba. Your ships are much older, and clearly as Georgia war demonstrated, Russia's force of about 30K power smashed NATO and US trained Georgian military which had 37K soldiers and 100K conscripts, including some dead American instructors.
    You can laugh as much as you want, but we'll see who'll be the last one to laugh.

    September 9, 2008 at 12:56 pm |
  11. Heather


    Maybe it's just me,but I find it rather strange that Putin felt the need to give you the stats on our military capabilities. Do other prime ministers from other countries do this during interviews. I think no matter what title Putin is given in the Russian gov, he is always going to be a KGB agent at heart. By the way he talks and the things that he says,the mentality is still there. He talks like he is living in the cold war days. I guess he sees what he wants to see. We are helping a fellow democratic country with aid .That is what we do. I think he is just being paranoid and rediculous.

    September 9, 2008 at 12:38 pm |
  12. Gary Chandler in Canada

    There is absolutely NO WAY, in this Century, for the Americans to get out of Iraq AND claim victory!!! McCain IS an idiot!!! It will would take 10 more Splurges!!! Making Iraq the 51rst State would be the ONLY way to attain Ethnic peace and western style democracy.
    The invasion WAS a BIG mistake, staying is a BIG mistake! Americans somehow think? their country has great and glorious foreign affairs history. That is WHY the World laughs at YOU!
    You have the highest crime of developed countries and are 20 in education. No WONDER you believe the McCain's and Palin's. In your history, you have had a propensity, (inclination – lug nuts) (habit) for NOT assisting good causes and sticking your fingers in wrong causes.
    Iraq and Ossetia are the latest examples!!!
    Why support Tibetan freedom and not Ossetian???
    Ossetia has a stronger claim than Tibet!

    September 9, 2008 at 12:36 pm |
  13. Tracey - Boston

    From you lips to God's ears.

    September 9, 2008 at 12:20 pm |
  14. Marcus

    Lets just press the big red button... I mean we are heading in that direction anyway. We should just launch all the rockets, or vote mccain in so he can just wake up and accidently do it. He might think he is takin a shower and then... boom!

    September 9, 2008 at 12:14 pm |
  15. Diane N.

    I'm still very confused as to why we are giving aid to Georgia and are pointing fingers at Russia when even the Georgian people said it was their own presidents fault and that the Georgian president was bombing his own people performing ethnic cleansing. Why is there nothing reported on the ethnic cleansing? Someone please explain. I don't understand why the tension with Russia I they too where our ally. Why is no one reporting on the ethnic cleansing in Georgia??

    September 9, 2008 at 11:50 am |
  16. Gary Chandler in Canada

    quote Matthew Chance """But make no mistake, this is still no cold war."""
    warm war maybe? Russia TOLD America to choose sides! How many steps below a declaration of war is this?
    Americans should get out of Iraq, get out of Georgia, get off the world stage!
    There is NO WAY you can EVER claim Victory in Iraq, short of making it the 51rst state. The splurge was throwwing good money after bad!
    What will McCain call Surge 2? (Riptide? Whirlwind?)

    September 9, 2008 at 11:41 am |
  17. Maureen. Apple Valley, California

    We seriously need to figure out who are our true enemies and figure out what to do to stop them. I'm tired of hearing about all this political 'bs' from the canidates when there is serious issues going on. I don't want to know what they keep on saying over and over again. I want to know who has it together enough to take care of our enemies and keep America safe. Enough with the 'bs' where is their sense of vice presidential and presidential powers.

    September 9, 2008 at 11:11 am |
  18. Mike in NYC

    To our Russian visitors:

    Dobro pozhalovat'!

    September 9, 2008 at 11:11 am |
  19. Jenny Rome Ga

    Glad to know Bush plans to send all those troops home. They can now go to the Carribian on vacation.

    September 9, 2008 at 10:57 am |
  20. Gary Chandler in Canada

    No matter what McCain, Cheney, Palin, Bush tell and do NOT tell the American public about the chain of events in Ossetia; Russia knows the truth and are beyond the brain washing.
    All of you Georgian-Americans should realise Georgia, with no provocation or warning, invaded Ossetia in night time raid, killing blue beret peace keepers and civilians. Sackofshiltes SHOULD be investigated as a war criminal, and Russia has gained the moral high ground by recognizing Ossetian Independence.
    Did you know Russia told America to choose Russia OR Georgia in the conflict? So far, the heads have been buried in the sand on this one.
    Can America afford to wrong, AGAIN, in an international dispute???
    (Name a time when the USA has been right! Vietnam, Iraq, late inot ww1, late into ww2, attacked Canada in 1812 and LOST, Chile (Allende), Contras, Somalia, Lebanon, ALL WRONG)
    Finally right about Ossetia? WRONG
    (Kennedy did pretty good with the German Wall and Cuba)

    September 9, 2008 at 10:45 am |
  21. Annie Kate

    Sounds terribly familiar to the Cuban Missile Crisis. You state there is no cold war yet – what constitutes a cold war now? I agree with Putin – Russians shouldn't feel any better about our ships off their coast patrolling than we will having theirs off our coasts. I'd also like not to have a war about it – cold, warm or otherwise. The scariest thing about this is that I don't know of anyone in our government that can competently handle this.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 9, 2008 at 10:44 am |
  22. Cindy

    I guess Russia is going to claim that they HAD to send their ships out to watch the U.S. ships. This is just another ridiculous attempt at trying to show that they matter.

    It seems like to me that they want to bring back the "cold war" days.


    September 9, 2008 at 10:11 am |

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