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Ottawa was well aware of the Russian presence in Cuba

Photo: Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press National Defence Minister Bill Blair

National Defence Minister Bill Blair has confirmed that he was aware of the presence of Russian warships in Cuba when he made the decision to send a Canadian ship there.

“The request [for the visit] was made through the Royal Canadian Navy. The invitation was accepted by Cuba, and we knew that the Russians would be there at the same time,” the minister clarified at a press briefing in Ottawa on Monday.

Last Friday, the Royal Canadian Navy patrol vessel HMCS Margaret Brooke docked with the Russians in the port of Havana as part of a visit to the Caribbean, raising several questions.

Minister Blair defended the decision to send the ship, saying he had received advice from the military that it was the “best time” to make a military visit to Cuba. However, he did not want to give further explanations on the advice received, specifying that this information is classified.

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“The Canadian ship traveled to Havana to demonstrate Canada's presence, naval capability and commitment to the safe and open waters of the Americas,” he explained.

“If you look at it purely from a partisan political perspective, as some have done, I think you can get very confused about what the purpose of this measure is. But it was a military mission,” he added.

The event has drawn criticism from Conservatives, who are now calling for an investigation by the parliamentary defence committee.

“While our troops are starved of resources, Trudeau spends defence budget sending a Canadian naval ship to Cuba alongside the Russian navy to honour Cuba’s brutal communist government, proving he wasn’t kidding when he said he admires communist dictatorships.

Reckless, radical &… https://t.co/bFkEbVJwjV

— Pierre Poilievre (@PierrePoilievre) June 15, 2024

The visit to Havana comes at a time when Ottawa has sent billions of dollars in aid and military equipment to Ukraine to help it fight the Russian invasion. This is the first visit by the Canadian navy since 2016.

The ship is scheduled to leave on Monday, after four days in Cuba.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116