Cuba, Relations with

   During the second half of the Cold War, Cuba enjoyed the status of primus inter pares among the Soviet Union’s satellites. However, during the period of glasnost, the Caribbean nation became a principal target for domestic critics who resented the large subsidies that kept Fidel Castro’s regime solvent. In 1991, Moscow began to divest from Cuba, canceling a number of joint projects. Two years later, the Russian Federation removed all its military personnel from the country, though an espionage station was maintained at Lourdes near Havana until 2002. Economic contacts during the early Yeltsin administration were dramatically reduced; however, the two countries did participate in a “sugar for oil” program. Under pressure from Washington, Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev oversaw Moscow’s near-total delinking from Havana in the 1990s. Without its Cold War patron, the Castro government was forced to reform its inefficient economy and seek new allies, ultimately settling on Venezuela after the election of Hugo Chavez. With the new foreign policy vector under Yevgeny Primakov, Cuba resumed its strategic position as a counterweight to the United States, although the Russian financial crisis of 1998 precluded substantive economic aid to the impoverished island. Upon becoming president, Vladimir Putin publicly criticized his predecessor’s treatment of Cuba. Since 2000, relations have improved steadily. In 2008, Dmitry Medvyedev visited Cuba’s new leader, Raul Castro, and declared the dawn of “intense” new contacts between the countries, including possible Caribbean oil exploration by Russian transnational corporations.
   See also Foreign relations.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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