A U.S. Navy ship
A U.S. Navy ship AFP

Two Russian warships have docked at a Venezuelan port after days of conducting military drills across the Atlantic and passing near the United States, The Miami Herald reported.

One vessel is the country's most advanced frigate in the Russian fleet, the other one an oil tanker. They are expected to remain for several days at the port of La Guaira, a city near the capital, Caracas. Other outlets reported that the crew received the keys to the city and took a tour of its historic city center.

"We receive (...) these sister ships of the Federative Republic of Russia that, on their passage through the Caribbean, are stopping in our state of La Guaira to rest, share, and express, together with the crews of these ships, their friendship, their solidarity and of course their support for Venezuela," Vice Admiral Edward Centeno Mass, second commander and chief of the General Staff of the Venezuelan Navy, told AFP.

The fleet concluded the first extensive such exercises in five years, which included the first deployment of a nuclear submarine in a region close to the U.S. since the end of the Cold War. They will later continue their "work" in the Atlantic Ocean, Russian authorities said in a statement.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the goal of the mission was to "show the flag and guarantee a naval presence in important operational areas."

The drills were closely monitored by the U.S., which deployed a series of ships and aircraft while they were taking place. Officials said some ships passed less than 30 miles off South Florida's coast but stayed in international waters.

The drills involved three ships and the nuclear-powered submarine. The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement its hypersonic-capable frigate and the submarine simulated a strike on a group of enemy ships. Russia said none of its vessels carry nuclear weapons, an assessment confirmed by the United States.

The Biden administration said it wasn't concerned about the drills but that "air and maritime assets under U.S. Northern Command have conducted operations to ensure the defense of the United States and Canada." "Russia's deployments are part of routine naval activity which pose no direct threat or concern to the United States," the military added.

However, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis blasted Biden for the exercises, saying that they wouldn't had taken place if he were the head of State. He said that the magnitude of the exercises were a result of weakness displayed by the Biden administration. "I think it's really concerning, I think that under this administration, they've put out a posture that has invited more aggressive actions from our adversaries," he said, according to Florida Politics.

"If you look at how the governments of this hemisphere are constituted, now, most of them are more aligned with the Russians and the Chinas, unfortunately than with the United States and the free world," he added. The Russian warships made a port stop in Cuba during the early stages of the drills.

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