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