Cuban Government Ignores Humanitarian Crisis in Ukraine

…and when it mentions the war it does so to justify Russia

Illustration: cubadebate.cu

By Alejandro Saavedra

HAVANA TIMES – Although it is estimated that the Russian invasion of Ukraine totals more than 1,150 civilian deaths and close to 3.9 million people have had to flee the country since the outbreak of the conflict, the Cuban government and its media systematically avoid referring to the humanitarian impact of the war.

In official communications there are practically no refugees or civilian victims, while justifications for the actions of Russian president Vladimir Putin and his army abound.

A clear example of this omission is the official Twitter profile of President Miguel Diaz Canel. After more than a month of conflict, he still does not publish a single tweet that mentions the humanitarian problems that the Ukrainian population is experiencing. However, he does accumulate several publications in which he defends and justifies the Russian incursion. For example, on March 7 he wrote:

“The conflict could have been avoided if Russia’s security guarantee claims had been seriously and respectfully addressed. To think that it would remain defenseless in the face of NATO’s offensive military siege is, to say the least, irresponsible. They have taken that country (Russia) to a limit situation.”

A similar reality is presented by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez. He only mentioned the humanitarian crisis in a series of tweets published on February 26. He wrote that day that he “deeply regretted the loss of innocent civilian lives in Ukraine,” but immediately after he added that “it was a mistake to ignore well-founded claims for security guarantees by Russia and to assume that country would remain defenseless in the face of a direct threat to its National Security. Russia has the right to defend itself.”

This discourse is also repeated in Cuba’s participation in international forums, such as the United Nations.

On March 4, the Cuban ambassador to the UN in Geneva (Switzerland), Juan Antonio Quintanilla, said that Cuba “deeply regretted the loss of innocent lives,” but immediately afterwards justified the Russian action and abstained in the vote to create an independent commission to investigate what is happening in the conflict.

In Donetsk and Lugansk there is a crisis

In the case of the official media, mentions of the humanitarian crisis unleashed in Ukraine are also minimal. However, there are several articles that address damage to civilians in Donetsk and Lugansk, the two Ukrainian regions for which Russia is demanding independence.

For example, on March 27th Granma reported that 19,694 civilians were evacuated from Donetsk and Lugansk to Russian territory. The source of the information was a Russian colonel. A day earlier, the same Communist Party outlet reported that one civilian was killed and 54 were injured in Donetsk. The source was again Russian military.

Something similar happens with the coverage of the war in Cubadebate. In a review of the information published on Ukraine since February 24, the day the conflict broke out, only one note was detected in which an issue related to the humanitarian crisis was addressed.

In the article, dated March 11, the number of refugees reported by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) was reported, which at that time was around 3.1 million people. However, the publication once again justifies Russia by stating that the invasion, which it called a special military operation, is not directed at civilians and even places Russia as a bastion for receiving displaced persons.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times



11 thoughts on “Cuban Government Ignores Humanitarian Crisis in Ukraine

  • Cuba abstained on the first two UN votes, in contrast with 2014 when it voted with Russia on Crimea. While its statements are implicitly critical of Russia, they are explicit in their criticism of the US, in contrast with statements from Vietnam justifying its abstentions and their votes against suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council. https://cubapeopletopeople.blogspot.com/2022/02/cubas-position-on-ukraine.html

    What is absent from all of the abstention countries, including South Africa, India and China, is any initiative to bring Russia’s barbaric and illegal invasion to an end, or even to mitigate the consequences. They should initiate a resolution and provide personnel to send UN Peace Keepers to occupy all the nuclear sites and to establish humanitarian safe zones and exit corridors.

    Cuba should hold Secretary Blinken to his words of principle expressed during his appearance with EU High Representative Josep Borrell:
    “the principle that one country can’t dictate to another the choices that its citizens would make about their future; the principle that we’re past the time of spheres of influence where one country subjugates its neighbors to its will”.

    Cuba should also mobilize support for suspension of the US from the Human Rights Council if it refuses to heed the near unanimous resolutions against the embargo.

    Following the Turkey model of the solution of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US should respect the sovereignty of Cuba in return for Russia respecting the sovereignty of Ukraine. That would give Putin a face saving win without rewarding him in Ukraine for the devastation he is wreaking. My arguments addressed to Blinken and Biden are here https://cubapeopletopeople.blogspot.com/2022/02/cuba-and-ukraine-personal-reflections.html

  • Anti Imperialist,
    You have no argument. So you try and create one. Unfortunately this is not untypical.
    Once again you are seemingly unable to see any kind of bigger picture. Just the usual blame game.
    You say that I’m diverting away from the article. You appear to be diverting away from being able to understand plain English.
    And you have the cheek to suggest that I’m somehow supporting or justifying what Putin is doing!? After I’ve described it as barbaric and despicable. I’ve posted various comments here on HT stating that what Putin is doing is appalling and a also a gross miscalculation.

    I understand that Cuba is hardly likely to side with NATO because NATO doesn’t ever side with Cuba. You seem to have great difficulty understanding this.
    But despite this, I would recommend that Cuba remains entirely neutral rather than it’s media leaning toward Putin. That’s my viewpoint.

    Anti Imperialist, What is your justification for trying to twist what I have written?
    You jump on the terrible situation in Ukraine and try to create an argument out of it.
    Where is your justification for that?

  • Nick, here is the gist of it. After outlining the NATO aggressions you say: “So why should Cuba be on the side of NATO and it’s provocative expansion right onto the Russian border?” That’s where you divert away from the article which is about Cuba’s state coverage of the invasion. First of all Cuba should condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine just like it would expect other countries to condemn the embargo and other aggression against Cuba. It’s about condemning the invasion which is Russia not NATO. You use Putin’s argument that invading another independent country, killing thousands of citizens, trying to take over the country or what’s left of it, is justified because NATO is close by its borders. Self-defense, right! That’s one more time you ride the fence and in doing so justify the unjustifiable, Cuba’s support for Putin’s invasion. That deserves our unequivocal condemnation.

  • Anti Imperialist,
    Where have I blamed the USA for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?
    Nowhere.
    You may wish to ponder on the wide difference between ‘blame’ and ‘context’.
    I have stated that the what the Russians are doing is despicable.
    I have also stated that the creeping expansion of NATO up to the Russian border is clearly provocation when seen through Russian eyes.
    Exactly which bit of what I’m saying do you disagree with?
    Or are you merely disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing??

  • Dan, when I was around 5 years old my parents taught me that two wrongs don’t make a right. What Russia is doing in its invasion of Ukraine is a terrible crime, what the US and its CIA did in many countries was/is as well. Both, and all such acts, should be condemned; not washed over because Hitler or Stalin or the USA killed more in another time or place.

    Nick, what great logic to blame the US for Russia’s terrible invasion because of its past crimes. Cuba’s support for Putin’s invasion and massacre has no justification, even if he is the enemy of their enemy and gives them some military toys.

  • In 1965, Indonesia experienced a mass slaughter of leftists and suspected leftists. The CIA, generously supplied the Indonesian Army with “kill lists” of suspected PKI members. Close to 2 million people were murdered over the span of months. The American Media, I think it was the liberal NYT, characterized this as a “shining light in Asia”, and along with all the “Free Press” praised the Indonesian Army for the atrocity. Tell me again how despicable Cuba is in its treatment of Ukraine …..

  • These Ukraine related articles seem to be a bit of a feature on HT recently.
    These articles certainly give the opportunity for contributors to have a go at Curt simply because he states the facts and points out the realpolitik.
    Don’t recall seeing too many HT articles about the atrocities in Yemen. Or the creeping theft of Palestinian lands and resulting misery inflicted upon the dispossessed. Such articles would describe atrocities committed by U.S. allies and big time purchasers of U.S. weaponry.

    The barbarity going on in Ukraine is a Russia vs NATO game.

    Cuba repelled an invasion from a NATO country.
    Cuba is under an embargo by a NATO country. This is a unilateral embargo, entirely voted against at the U.N., but which even seeks to penalise third parties from doing business with Cuba.
    Cuba has part of it’s territory occupied by a NATO country. That occupied part of Cuba has been used as a base to detain people and torture people way outside of any morality or any respect for the Geneva Convention.
    The same NATO country has a track record of harbouring terrorists who have committed their murderous deeds against Cuba.

    So why should Cuba be on the side of NATO and it’s provocative expansion right onto the Russian border? An expansion in the very same footsteps of Operation Barbarossa?

    From my personal perspective I think that what Putin is doing is despicable. What his military commanders are doing is despicable. What the conscript teenage troops are doing is despicable.
    I understand the Cuban Government’s perspective. And I totally get why Cuba ain’t siding with NATO. But I would 100% recommend that they would do well present a more balanced story in their state run media. They abstained at the UN and from their perspective, they should be sat firmly on that old fence rather than leaning toward Putin.

    Quite apart from anything else, being on the side of Putin puts Cuba on the same side as certain right wing extremists in the USA who’s names I shall not mention.

    And who the f**k wants to be on the same side as those nasty MFs??

  • Hey Mr. Anti Imperialist ! What about the US ignoring human rights atrocities in the 80s in Argentina, El Salvador, and Chile because they helped the US fight Communism. How about the US ignoring human rights in the most repressive country in the world, which is Saudi Arabia. The US would be biting the hand that feeds them a great amount of oil.

  • Curt, it gives people an idea on how the omnipresent Cuban state media is handling the news about the invasion of Ukraine and that is important to know. Wow, your statement “It would be very foolish to bite the hand that feeds you” even if it is carrying out a criminal invasion of another country, says loads about your politics. Forget about any principles or humanity.

  • Cuba abstained from the UN vote. Of course Cuba is against attacking sovereign countries, but Russia is their benefactor. It would be very foolish to bite the hand that feeds you. I don’t see how or why this article is even news.

  • The stance of the Cuban government re the war in Ukraine and its support for Russia on top of all the injustices meted out to their own people makes my blood boil and my anger seethe. A pox on them all.

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