WASHINGTON — (TNS) The Biden administration responded Thursday to threats from Russian officials that Moscow could begin military deployments in Cuba and Venezuela if tensions continue to rise with the United States, vowing a “decisive” response if it sees any evidence that the threat is real.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, told state television Thursday that he could “neither confirm nor exclude” the potential deployments. Russian media followed up on the remarks with a report that agents from Russia’s spy agency, the FSB, had visited the two Western Hemisphere countries in recent days.
“We are not going to respond to bluster,” a senior administration official told McClatchy and the Miami Herald. “If Russia actually started moving in that direction, we would deal with it decisively.”
Tensions have been rising between Washington and Moscow since December, when Russia began amassing tens of thousands of troops on its border with Ukraine. Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, have not ruled out an invasion.
Talks have taken place between Russian, American, European and NATO officials over the past three days across Europe, but officials have not reported any breakthroughs.
The Associated Press was first to report on Ryabkov’s comments.
Some Cuban exiles have been closely watching the Biden administration’s standoff with Russia and China, with the hopes that a new geopolitical realignment would entice the Biden administration to claim Cuba in the U.S. circle of influence and more actively seek regime change on the island. Ryabkov’s comments could add to the speculation that the Caribbean island could again become entangled in a replay of the Cuban missile crisis.
The governments of Cuba and Venezuela have not publicly responded to the comments. The Cuban Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.