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Russian warships conduct Atlantic drills en route to Cuba. New hypersonic missiles are on board

Russian warships conducted drills in the Atlantic, the military said Tuesday, as they were heading to visit Cuba, part of Moscow’s efforts to project power amid the tensions with the West over Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the Admiral Gorshkov frigate and the Kazan nuclear-powered submarine conducted the exercise that was intended to simulate a missile strike on a group of enemy ships.

The ministry said the drills involved computer simulation of an attack on sea targets more than 600 kilometers (over 320 nautical miles) away.

The Admiral Gorshkov is armed with new Zircon hypersonic missiles. The weapon has been designed to arm Russian cruisers, frigates and submarines and could be used against both enemy ships and ground targets.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has touted Zircon as a potent weapon capable of penetrating any existing anti-missile defenses by flying nine times faster than the speed of sound at a range of more than 1,000 kilometers (over 620 miles).

The Admiral Gorshkov and the Kazan are accompanied by two support vessels on their visit to Havana, which Cuban officials said reflected “historically friendly relations” between Russia and Cuba.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry said the Russian warships will be in Havana between Wednesday and June 17, noting that none will carry nuclear weapons and assuring their presence “does not represent a threat to the region.”

The Cuban statement followed a U.S. announcement that Washington had been tracking Russian warships and aircraft that were expected to arrive in the Caribbean for a military exercise.

It’s not the first time Russia has sent its warships to the Caribbean, but this week’s visit follows Putin’s warning that Moscow could respond to Ukraine’s Western allies allowing Kyiv to use their weapons to strike targets in Russia by giving similar weapons to adversaries of the West worldwide.

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