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Sending Canadian vessel to Cuba alongside Russia’s was carefully planned: Minister

Written by on June 16, 2024

OTTAWA — National Defence Minister Bill Blair’s office says sending a Canadian ship to Cuba, where it docked alongside some of Russia’s fleet, was a “carefully” planned move to increase its presence in the region.

Spokesman Daniel Minden issued a statement saying the visit to Havana’s port “was carefully and fulsomely planned,” and the minister authorized it on the advice of the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Joint Operations Command.

The Opposition Conservatives took to social media to criticize the move after Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly told CBC during a recent interview she was unaware that one of Canada’s patrol vessels was docked in Havana at the same time as Russian vessels.

The visit to Havana marks the first for Canada’s navy since 2016 and comes at a time when Canada has sent billions in aide and military equipment to Ukraine to help it fight off Russia’s invasion.

Minden says Canada made “the smart choice” to increase its naval presence in the region, adding one of its warships and a patrol plane had been tracking the Russian flotilla.

The visit by HMCS Margaret Brooke is set to last from June 14 to 17.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2024.

The Canadian Press