Russian spy ship spotted last year off Eastern Seaboard docks in Cuba

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Friday, March 16, 2018
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The Viktor Leonov, a Russian navy intelligence vessel, has been spotted in the Havana harbor.

HAVANA -- A known Russian Navy intelligence vessel has docked in Cuba.

Footage shows the Viktor Leonov entering the Havana harbor early Friday. The warship is one of Russia's Vishnya-class ships generally used for intelligence gathering.

The same vessel has made multiple trips to Cuba in recent years in addition to a trip up and down the Eastern Seaboard of the United States last year.

According to U.S. defense officials, the ship made a port call in Cuba in early 2017 and was later spotted in international waters off Delaware and Connecticut. It was presumably monitoring activity at multiple military bases.

Those trips, according to officials, have become commonplace in recent years. Each time, the vessel has remained well into international waters and has conducted intelligence-gathering operations similar to those conducted by the United States.

"There's been a lot made of this Russian ship, the Viktor Leonov, reported to be off the East Coast of the U.S.," Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in 2017. "It's not something we've seen where they've entered U.S. territorial waters, and as such it's lawful and very similar to operations we do in places around the world."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.