Cuban President Raul Castro will arrive in Moscow on 30 January to seal a new strategic alliance with President Dmitry Medvedev.
Fidel is too feeble to make the long journey, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is no longer a Soviet KGB star. But the two leaders continue to advance their respective strategic global agendas.
The Kremlin’s re-embrace of the Castro regime, 20 years after Moscow dumped Havana at the Cold War’s end, is only the latest evidence that the Medvedev/Putin regime is pushing Russia assertively into a region Washington has long considered its own back yard.
“The position of Cuba in Latin America — the authority that it has there — helps Russian companies to work on issues in the other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean region,” says Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin.
The Russia Consortium, a Gazprom-led consortium of Russia’s five largest oil and gas companies created in 2008 to develop fields in Venezuela, signed a cooperation agreement with Cuba Petroleum (Cupet) on 23 January. In addition to Gazprom, the consortium comprises Rosneft, LUKoil, TNK-BP and Surgutneftegaz.
The Russia Consortium and Cupet will work together in exploration, production and refining, Sechin said. In addition to Gazprom, the consortium comprises Rosneft, LUKoil, TNK-BP and Surgutneftegaz.
Norilsk Nickel also agreed on 23 January to fund exploration in Cuba with the prospect of mining any finds the future.
Automaker AvtoVAZ also igned a deal to organize the servicing of its cars in Cuba.
Other agreements included joint work in developing vaccines and letters of intent between Cuban telecom company Etexa and telecom operators VimpelCom and Rostelecom, respectively.
Sechin said other potential deals include fisheries and transportation.
Russia and Cuba woill remain partners in the arms trade, he added.
Sechin stressed that Russia never meant to neglect Cuba when relations soured in 1989-91, but was consumed with its own hardships.
“When they say that the Russian Federation left Cuba without help 20 years ago, I can’t agree with that,” he said. “The Russians were humiliated and hungry.”