Video shows Russian warship docking in Cuba in 2019, not 2024

A Russian warship and nuclear-powered submarine arrived in Cuba on June 12 in a show of force amid spiralling US-Russian tensions. A video shared in social media posts, however, does not show the rare deployment to the communist island off Florida's coast. The footage in fact shows Russian navy vessels in Havana in June 2019.

"Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov arrives in the Cuban capital Havana," read a simplified Chinese Weibo post that shared the video on June 10, 2024.

Russian missile frigate Admiral Gorshkov and nuclear-powered submarine Kazan arrived in Cuba on June 12 in a rare five-day visit to the island.

The deployment of the Russian military so close to the United States -- particularly the powerful submarine which Cuba said was not carrying nuclear weapons -- came amid major tensions over the war in Ukraine where the Western-backed government is fighting a Russian invasion.

A US nuclear-powered submarine arrived in Cuba the next day as part of a planned and routine port visit, the US Southern Command said.

Screenshot of the misleading post, captured on June 19, 2024

The video made the rounds on social media around the world, including in posts in Chinese, English, German, Arabic, Spanish and Russian.

2019 video

A reverse image search of the video and keyword searches found the original video posted on YouTube on June 30, 2019 by The Associated Press (AP) news agency (archived link).

The footage shows Russian navy ships entering Havana on June 24, 2019 in a show of solidarity with the island after the United States clamped down on tourist visits there, according to the video caption.

Then-president Donald Trump's administration announced a ban on June 4 on US cruise ship stopovers in Cuba, aiming to cut an essential revenue source for a country that Washington accused of helping prop up Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video shared in misleading social media posts (left) and AP's video (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video shared in misleading social media posts (left) and AP's video (right)

AFP also captured the Russian ships arriving in Havana in June 2019. 


During the Cold War, Cuba was an important client state for the Soviet Union.

The deployment of Soviet nuclear missile sites on the island triggered the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when Washington and Moscow came close to war.

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