The Sun (Malaysia)
Putin accused of trafficking Cubans to fight in Ukraine
Carribean island nation working to ‘neutralise and dismantle’ network run by criminals
Cuba has identified an alleged human trafficking ring aimed at recruiting its citizens to fight in Russia’s war in the Ukraine.
The Foreign Ministry said on Monday a human trafficking operation was being run by criminals working in both the Caribbean island nation and thousands of miles away in Russia.
The Cuban government added that they were being incorporated into the military forces to participate in war operations.
The government was working to dismantle a “trafficking network that operates from Russia to incorporate Cuban citizens living there, and even some from Cuba, into the military forces involved in military operations in Ukraine”, the ministry said in a statement.
It said the government had initiated criminal proceedings against those carrying out the trafficking.
Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez said in a post on X, the government was “acting with the full force of the law” against trafficking operations.
“Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine,” the ministry said, adding it would take action against anyone “who participates in any form of human trafficking for the purpose of recruitment or mercenarism for Cuban citizens to use arms against any country”.
There was no immediate reaction from Moscow.
Russia and Havana have boosted ties recently, with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel meeting his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow at the end of last year.
In June, Cuban Defence Minister Alvaro Lopez Miera was received by his counterpart Sergei Shugu.
Ukraine said on Monday it had made some gains against Russian forces in the south and east as it pushes ahead with a highly scrutinised counteroffensive.
Russia last year announced a plan to boost the size of its armed forces by more than 30% to 1.5 million combat personnel, a lofty goal made harder by its heavy but yet undisclosed casualties in the war.
In late May, a Russia newspaper in Ryazan city reported that several Cuban citizens had signed contracts with Russia’s armed forces and had been shipped to Ukraine in return for Russian citizenship.
It was not immediately clear if the Cuban foreign ministry statement was associated with the Ryazan report.