Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Cuban counterpart Miguel Díaz-Canel met on November 22, 2022 in Moscow to strengthen their political and commercial relations, Colombian daily El Tiempo reported.
“Cuba is Russia’s main operator in the Americas,” Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, director of the Miami think tank Inter-American Institute for Democracy (IID), told Diálogo on December 9. “It represents its main platform in terms of propaganda, disinformation, intelligence, and in its open support both in regional meetings and in the United Nations [U.N.].”
Putin, whose troops invaded Ukraine in February 2022, said that “Russia and the Soviet Union have supported Cuba in its struggle for sovereignty” and that “based on friendship and contemporary conditions” they should strengthen the cooperation they have.
More than 140 out of the 193 U.N. member countries have condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mexican daily Reforma reported. Díaz-Canel, however, reiterated his support for Putin’s annexation of Ukrainian territories and promised to pay the debts the Kremlin postponed until 2027, Spanish daily El País reported.
“Ukraine is being attacked by an alliance of States associated with Russia, which are against liberal democracy, the rule of law, and the attraction of open societies on the populations of their respective countries,” Cuban Juan Antonio Blanco, a former U.N. diplomat and expert in negotiation and conflict resolution, said in a column for IID.
At the meeting, Putin stated that both parties have a plan for mutual cooperation until 2030, a large number of joint projects to be carried out, and the opportunity to analyze what has been done and what needs to be done in the current complex conditions, European news network Euronews reported.
For Sánchez, however, “Russia has no way of helping Cuba. Russia is a country in economic crisis […]. What happens is that they both long for the time of the Soviet Union, which practically maintained the Cuban dictatorship until the Soviet Union imploded,” he said.
“Cuba basically asked [the Kremlin] for ships to produce electricity, to try to keep Havana supplied with electricity, because the towns and cities in the interior are in a total crisis due to lack of electricity,” he added.
The U.S. has sanctioned more than a dozen of Russia’s main financial entities, including the Central Bank of Russia and the Direct Investment Fund, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. digital news site Voice of America reported.
However, “these should not only be sanctions established by the U.S. government but by the entire world to put pressure on the dictatorships in Cuba, Venezuela … to cease. For this to happen, they must be economically suffocated and effectively removed from the world economic market,” Sánchez said.
The Russia-Cuba relationship “has a very negative impact” because it has equipped Venezuela with airplanes, artillery equipment, and assault weapons, Sánchez said.
He also pointed out that in this relationship “Russia comes with Iran,” which has been supplying missiles and weapons to Russia in its war against Ukraine. This allows “the penetration [of Tehran] in […] all America, including the United States, attacking freedom and democracy,” Sánchez said.
In the short term, “Cuba’s dictatorship will perish, while Putin’s dictatorship has severe problems with the bourgeoisie,” Sánchez added. In all dictatorships civil resistance is ongoing and the 21st century communication revolution process, where everything is known in real time, is against dictatorships, he said.
“Dictatorships are going to end up being defeated […] because they all have problems. They are all confronted by people asking for freedom and a world that watches and denounces human rights violation,” Sánchez concluded.