Russia says it will defend Cuba’s right to choose its own future

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has said that Russia will continue to defend Cuba’s right to choose its own future and will strengthen its relations in the face of the difficult conditions Cuba is experiencing as a result of US pressure.

Speaking on 24 July at a press conference at the end of a two-day visit to Havana during which he met with President Díaz-Canel, the Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez and others, Lavrov said that “all strategic issues” had been discussed.

“We will continue to support Cuba, the people and Cuban leaders, not only through moral or political methods, but also through the development of cooperation and trade and economic projects that contribute to making the island’s economy more sustainable in the face of external attacks”, he told the media.

In his remarks, Russia’s Foreign Minister noted the accelerating level and frequency of contact between both countries following the agreements reached in 2018 during meetings between President Putin and  President Díaz-Canel in Moscow (Cuba Briefing 5 November 2018). “Our contacts are regular, reflecting the interest in further developing relations in all areas”, he said.

At the same press conference Cuba’s Foreign Minister said that he and his Russian counterpart were able to see “a great coincidence in vision on different issues on the international agenda” and that it was “the will and decision of both governments to continue to consolidate political, diplomatic, economic, trade, financial and cooperation relations”.

Rodríguez, who described the relationship between the two nations as “dynamic” and “highly productive”, said that the joint projects being undertaken characterised the intense relationship in strategic sectors including energy, industrial cooperation and transport. “Cuba has a reliable and long-standing partner in Russia. We see Russia’s participation in our economic and social development plan until 2030 as a very important element”, he said.

Lavrov described the recent activation of Title III of US Helms-Burton Act as illegal and contravening international law. Indicating that the US no longer took international law seriously, he criticised the “neo-colonial methods” introduced by President Trump, which, he said were undermining Washington’s relations with the world.

“We will continue to support Cuba, the people and Cuban leaders, not only through moral or political methods, but also through the development of cooperation and trade and economic projects that contribute to making the island’s economy more sustainable in the face of external attack”, Lavrov said.

Some Cuban media reports appeared to emphasise language used by Lavrov during the joint press conference which suggested Moscow will provide both economic and military support to Cuba, noting his commitment to “continue to defend the right of the Cuban people to choose their own future”, and the recent visit by the Russian advanced cruise-missile frigate, Admiral Gorshkov in June (Cuba Briefing 1 July 2019).

Lavrov’s visit coincided with one to Russia by Vice-President of the Council of Ministers, Ricardo Cabrisas, during which he met the Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigú on 22 July to discuss what the Russian Defence Ministry described as ‘bilateral cooperation, and stability and security in the Caribbean region’.

Following the meeting, a brief statement from the Russian Ministry of Defence noted ‘the importance of Russian-Cuban cooperation in ensuring stability and security in the region’ and said that the two parties had addressed ‘regional and international security issues as well as promising areas for bilateral cooperation”. It was Cabrisas’ third visit to Moscow this year.

The Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is expected to visit Cuba in October.

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