FILE PHOTO: A tourist puts on a face mask after posing for a picture at the seafront El Malecon in Havana, Cuba, February 7, 2022. Picture taken February 7, 2022. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli/File Photo
February 19, 2022
By Dave Sherwood
HAVANA (Reuters) – Russia and Cuba will deepen ties and explore collaboration in transportation, energy, industry and banking, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said late on Friday following a visit from Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov.
In a statement, Cuba’s communist-run government expressed support for Russia as tensions mount in Ukraine, and accused long-time rival the United States and its allies of targeting Moscow with what it called a “propaganda war” and sanctions.
Cuba “reiterates its position against the unilateral and unjust sanctions imposed by the West on the Eurasian country and against the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization towards the Russian borders.”
Borisov earlier this week visited Nicaragua and Venezuela, key Russian allies in Latin America, and said Russia would also deepen bilateral ties with both countries.
His tour follows visits to Moscow by Latin American leaders – including Argentina’s Alberto Fernandez and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro – for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, prompting some analysts to suggest Russia is courting the region as tensions rise over Ukraine.
Putin launched exercises by strategic nuclear missile forces on Saturday, as Washington said Russian troops massed near Ukraine’s border were “poised to strike”.
Cuba and Russia have a long history of deep economic and military collaboration since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, though in recent decades those ties have faded.
Borisov, who met with Cuban Deputy Prime Minister Ricardo Cabrisas, said in Cuba’s statement that Russia had ramped up humanitarian aid to Cuba between December 2021 and January 2022. He also noted prior shipments of medical supplies to the island amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Russia said in December that escalating tensions over Ukraine could lead to a repeat of the Cuban missile crisis, when the world stood on the brink of nuclear war.
That crisis in 1962 was triggered by the stationing of Soviet nuclear missiles on the island and prompted the United States, just 90 miles (145 km) away, to impose a naval blockade on Cuba.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel discussed coordination of a “strategic partnership” with Putin in January, as tensions began to rise in Ukraine.
(Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
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