HAVANA TIMES – The Russian ambassador to Cuba, Viktor Koronelli, said on Wednesday that Moscow and Havana are “in contact” and “working” to clarify the issue of hiring Cubans in both countries to fight on the Russian side in the war in Ukraine. Koronelli made these statements to the international media outside an act of gratitude by the Cuban Government for a donation of 650 tons of vegetable oil from Russia and the World Food Program (WFP).
“The competent bodies are working and are in contact with both the Russian and Cuban sides,” said the diplomat, who acknowledged that his embassy is aware of Cubans who had gone to Russia “to prepare militarily,” but that he did not know the specific figures.
The Cuban government announced earlier this month the dismantling of an alleged Cuban recruitment network, after various media reported that there were groups of mercenaries from that country fighting on the Russian side in the invasion of Ukraine.
A team of Ukrainian hackers leaked images, obtained from the mail of a Russian soldier, of about 200 passports of Cubans who are allegedly serving as mercenaries hired by Russia.
As a result of these incidents, the Cuban Foreign Ministry categorically rejected any form of participation in the invasion of Ukraine and stressed that mercenarism is a crime in their country.
The Cuban government has regularly used the Kremlin’s rhetoric to refer to the invasion of Ukraine but has chosen to abstain in the majority of votes on Ukraine at the United Nations.
Cuba and Russia have been close political allies for decades, as a result of the strengthening of their ties during the Cold War (1945-1991). Bilateral relations have received a new impetus in recent months, especially with the visit to Moscow of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel.
Political contacts have multiplied, and ways have also been sought to increase economic exchanges, which in 2022 totaled $451 million dollars.
Translated by Regina Anavy for Translating Cuba