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Russian warships in Cuban visit

The Admiral Chabanenko in the Panama Canal
Russia has been trying to strengthen its influence in the region

A group of Russian warships is to visit Cuba for the first time since the Soviet era, the Russian navy has said.

The visit, scheduled for 19-22 December, will be led by the destroyer Admiral Chabanenko.

Recently the ship took part in joint manoeuvres with Venezuela and became the first Russian vessel to navigate the Panama Canal since World War II.

The naval activities are being seen as an attempt by Moscow to strengthen its influence in the region.

Cuba's revolutionary leadership was closely allied to the Soviet Union (USSR) during the Cold War, but relations have weakened since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

There have recently been attempts to revive ties.

Russia was the first country to send humanitarian aid to Cuba after two major hurricanes this year, and the two countries signed major trade deals in November.

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