Two countries that have a history and a relationship perspective
This week, President of the Republic of Cuba and First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party Miguel Diaz-Canel is arriving in Russia. His visit will take place as part of a large tour that covers three more countries – Algeria, Turkey and China.
The last time the two leaders met was three years ago in Moscow. The Russian president was going to Cuba on a return visit, but the coronavirus epidemic prevented him. Recently, Putin again invited Diaz-Canel to visit, and he gratefully accepted the invitation. There were good reasons for a business conversation. The time has come to restore cooperation, which was dismantled after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Today, Cuba, one of the few countries that support our country, votes in the UN against anti-Russian resolutions, including on Ukraine. Havana recognized the belonging of Crimea to Russia, the independence of the DPR and LPR, the reunification of the Russian Federation with the former Ukrainian regions.
Moscow, in turn, advocates the lifting of economic sanctions against Cuba. In 2014, during Putin’s visit to Cuba, a decision was made to write off 90 percent of the total debt of the Island of Freedom in the amount of $30 billion.
It is symbolic that the talks between the leaders of the two countries will take place on a significant date – 120 years ago, the first president of Cuba, which had recently gained independence from Spain, Thomas Estrada Palma, sent to Nikolai II offer to establish diplomatic relations. The Russian emperor agreed, expressing “readiness to do everything possible to strengthen friendship and good harmony between his subjects and the government of Cuba.”
After the October Revolution, diplomatic relations were lost and resumed only in 1942. Cuba supported the Soviet Union, which was waging an exhausting war with Germany. And even though the help that came from a distant island was small, this symbolic gesture was eloquent.
Another historical fact: during the Great Patriotic War, three Cuban internationalists fought in the Red Army. Enrique Villar, Aldo Vivo died in battle, the brother of the latter, Jorge Vivo, was seriously wounded.
In 1952, when General Batista, together with the military, carried out a coup, diplomatic relations between the two countries were interrupted and restored eight years later, in 1960, after the victory of the Cuban revolution. Economic and military cooperation between the two states began.
Cuban leader Fidel Castro was greeted in the USSR with genuine enthusiasm. His first visit to the USSR in 1963 went down in history. In the cities where Castro came, the air was filled with thousands of exclamations Viva Cuba! To see Comandante Castro at least from afar, people climbed trees, drainpipes, roofs of houses. In the Kremlin, Castro was awarded the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union.
In Russia, the legendary Cuban is still remembered. It is immortalized in the name of the Moscow square in the area of the Sokol metro station, and a monument to Fidel Castro will be unveiled there one of these days. Putin and Diaz-Canel are expected to take part in the ceremony.
… Both countries repeatedly exchanged government delegations: in addition to Fidel Castro, his brother Raul came to Moscow. Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev paid official visits to Cuba.
The USSR helped the friendly state in many areas: machine tools, machines, mechanisms, food were sent to a distant republic. Soviet specialists worked on the Island of Freedom.
Cooperation in the military sphere was actively developed. For many years, a powerful radar center operated in Lourdes, capable of intercepting data from American communications satellites, terrestrial telecommunications cables, messages from the US NASA mission control center.
Cienfuegos had a naval base for the maintenance of submarines. A motorized rifle brigade was deployed in Cuba, which had a tank and artillery battalion of up to 1,500 people. To this must be added a large number of military advisers. And all this – in the “soft underbelly” of the United States!
After the collapse of the USSR, contacts between the two countries began to weaken. This had a detrimental effect on the economy and industry of Cuba. In 2002, the Kremlin decided to liquidate the military outpost in Cuba…
A lot could change now. For Russia, the position of Cuba is important, which restrains US influence in Central and South America.
The conversation between Putin and Diaz-Canel may turn to the revival of the base on the Island of Freedom. True, on his way to Russia, the President of Cuba called his visit “essentially related to energy”, but one does not interfere with the other.
It is appropriate to recall that in June 2021, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at a conference on international security said that Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua need military support from Russia due to various forms of pressure that these countries are experiencing. It sounded like a program of action.
The topic of military cooperation between Russia and the states of Central and South America came to the fore in January of this year, when the United States refused to give Moscow security guarantees. Then Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov hinted at the deployment of “military infrastructure” in Cuba and Venezuela …
As political scientist Dmitry Ambrosimov noted, “The fact that Miguel Diaz-Canel is visiting our country at the very time when they are trying to stick the label of a pariah country on Russia speaks volumes.”
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