Rus­sia’s Medvedev slams US for Cuba em­bargo dur­ing Ha­vana trip

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

HA­VANA/MOSCOW (Reuters) — Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev lam­basted the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on Thurs­day for try­ing to cre­ate a “toxic at­mos­phere” around Cuba, dur­ing a two-day trip to the is­land demon­strat­ing Rus­sia’s sup­port for its Com­mu­nist gov­ern­ment.

The for­mer Soviet Union was Cuba’s main backer for decades and Moscow has sought to re­new its com­mer­cial, mil­i­tary and po­lit­i­cal ties with the is­land in re­cent years. The ef­fort is part of Rus­sia’s broader strat­egy to ex­pand its pres­ence in Latin Amer­ica as a coun­ter­weight to China and the United States.

While Rus­sia’s sup­port for Cuba is in­signif­i­cant com­pared to the role the Soviet Union once played, it is still wel­come as the is­land’s econ­omy is suf­fer­ing from a tight­en­ing of the decades-old U.S. trade em­bargo and a steep de­cline in Venezue­lan aid.

Medvedev’s visit - the high­est pro­file Rus­sian tour since that of Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin in 2014 - is also sym­bol­i­cally im­por­tant, show­ing Cuba has still has pow­er­ful al­lies that will help it re­sist U.S. pres­sure.

“(The U.S.) de­sire to cre­ate a toxic at­mos­phere around co­op­er­a­tion with the is­land, to scare off in­vestors and cre­ate an en­er­getic block­ade is ob­vi­ous,” Medvedev told re­porters after hold­ing of­fi­cial talks with Cuban Pres­i­dent Miguel Diaz-Canel and agree­ing to strengthen strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion.

“But Cuba’s ex­pe­ri­ence re­sist­ing the block­ade for nearly 60 years shows that this pol­icy will fail.”

For Rus­sia, the visit could also be im­por­tant to shore up Cuban sup­port for their mu­tual ally, Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro, some an­a­lysts said.

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