HomeWorld NewsCuban state visit to Russia demonstrates Havana's importance to Putin's anti-American agenda

Cuban state visit to Russia demonstrates Havana’s importance to Putin’s anti-American agenda

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Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel traveled to Russia this week as part of an official state visit, where he will attend the inauguration of a statue of Fidel Castro at the Sokol metro station in northwest Moscow.

Despite Cuba’s decision earlier this year to abstain from UN votes condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Ukrainian territory, Cuba and Russia remain close geopolitical, economic, and military allies, united by a shared anti-American vision.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has lavished hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil on the island nation, and in return Cuba has installed Russian intelligence at the infamous Lourdes SIGINT (signals intelligence) station near Havana, where it actively monitors American communications.

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Russia’s Security Council deputy head Dmitry Medvedev, right, shakes hands with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel during their meeting at the Gorky state residence outside Moscow on November 21, 2022. (Yekaterina Shtukina/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite Cuba’s bleak economic prospects, Russia seems happy to extend repeated financial lifelines to the Caribbean island in exchange for a bolstered geopolitical and military presence just 150 miles from US shores. At a time when Russia is in danger like never before in the post-Cold War era, his commitment of critical resources demonstrates the value he places on Cuba, which many scholars believe is the command center in the “long game.” ” that Russia is trying to play as it fights for hearts and minds in the Latin American region.

Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., told Fox News Digital that “the Cuban regime has struggled to stay relevant after its financial facilitators in the Soviet Union stopped sending them money in the 1990s,” but with ties renewed receive “military”. equipment and intelligence from Russia… the Cuban regime benefits because it can sustain itself further with Russian blood money. Communism only works with the money of other peoples.”

Russian-born intelligence expert Rebekah Koffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency official, believes that a Russian military deployment to the island is a possibility.

“Russia is probably considering the deployment of military assets and personnel to Cuba to show Washington that it too can be in its backyard, all part of the plan to pressure the Biden administration to drop support for Ukraine. Obviously, Putin would need Diaz. -Canel’s consent for that.”

Sixty years after the harrowing Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the threat of another full-scale confrontation looms.

“Putin may hope to get permission to deploy nuclear-capable assets on the island, as Moscow fears NATO intervention in the Russia-Ukraine war. This is intended as a deterrent, but Washington would probably perceive it as an escalation,” Koffler said.

Díaz-Canel’s visit demonstrates that Cuba remains firmly in the Russian geopolitical orbit, with ties between the two nations arguably closer than at any time since the end of the Cold War.

The late Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Havana, Cuba, during a visit by the Russian president in 2014. (AP Photo/Alex Castro)

The late Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Havana, Cuba, during a visit by the Russian president in 2014. (AP Photo/Alex Castro)

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As Koffler notes, “On January 24, one month before the so-called ‘special operation’ (the Russian invasion of Ukraine), the Cuban and Russian presidents had a ‘friendly and productive phone call’ during which they discussed their ‘strategic operation ‘.association’…less than a week before the invasion, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov visited Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, Russia’s key allies in Latin America, to secure support.”

Despite the close relationship, Cuba and other Latin American allies such as Venezuela and Bolivia shocked the world when they abstained in a UN vote to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year and a subsequent vote on October 12 on the Russian annexation of Ukrainian territory.

Koffler believes that this decision is linked to Cuba maximizing its economic position with its historic benefactor.

“Cuba did not openly vote in favor of Russia, probably because it wants some bargaining leverage over Moscow. Havana probably hopes Moscow will forgive some of its loans and get preferential terms for trade. In 2014, Moscow canceled Cuba’s $32 billion outstanding debt. Havana probably expects further debt forgiveness from Moscow.”

Russia and China, while sharing a strong interest in the region, take very different approaches to Latin America. While China has largely limited its interests to ensuring a return on its economic investments, Russia, in a return to a Cold War mentality, has made substantial political investments to ensure the stability and longevity of its authoritarian allies, as well as as to strengthen the fight against war. American movements and sentiments.

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Honor guards attend Revolution Day celebrations in Guantanamo, Cuba.

Honor guards attend Revolution Day celebrations in Guantanamo, Cuba.
(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

The renewed use of the Lourdes SIGINT facility, through which it actively monitors American communications, is a key component of Russia’s long-term strategy in the region, which consists primarily of antagonizing the United States.

However, given Cuba’s history of aggressive military interventions around the world, Cuba’s military involvement in Ukraine is not beyond the realm of possibility. Last week, the popular state TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov called for the formation of international brigades to help Russia.

“I don’t understand why the Americans, even if they are fighting in Grenada, always improvise an international coalition… Why do we deny ourselves that pleasure? There are units in Syria that are very well trained by us, there are people in Africa who support us, there is Venezuela , there is Nicaragua, Cuba, Iran and North Korea”.

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Citing the example of foreign volunteering during the Spanish Civil War, he added: “If volunteers from all over the world are going to fight in Donetsk, why shouldn’t we give them the opportunity to organize and create an international body?”

However, Koffler considers this possibility remote.

“I don’t see it as likely, but we can’t completely rule it out, at least coercively rather than voluntarily,” he said. “Solovyov is one of the Kremlin’s leading propagandists and much of his rhetoric is aimed at scaring the West and galvanizing ultranationalist sentiments inside Russia. While we can’t completely dismiss what he says, we should always take his rants with a grain of salt. grain of salt.”

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