Putin pledges economic assistance for Cuba

Moscow, Jun 14 (EFE).- President Vladimir Putin assured Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero here Wednesday that Russia will help Havana overcome economic woes due to the embargo the United States has maintained on the Communist-ruled island for nearly 63 years.

“We, for our part, will do everything possible so that our economic cooperation aids in surmounting these problems caused from outside,” Putin told his visitor at the start of their meeting at the Kremlin.

“You know that we have always had and will have a special relationship with the Island of Freedom,” the Russian leader said.

Marrero said that his government has proposed Havana as the venue for the next summit of the Eurasian Economic Union, which comprises Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Armenia.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel took part via videoconference in a recent EEU conference.

Cuba opposes the economic sanctions the West imposed on Russia following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the efforts of the US and its allies to marginalize Moscow in international organizations, Marrero said.

On Monday, Marrero and Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed an accord that calls for Russian state oil company Rosneft to provide Cuba every year with 1.64 million tons of petroleum and other hydrocarbons.

The island has struggled this year with fuel shortages that led to long lines at service stations and cutbacks in public transit, but Marrero said that the deal with Rosneft will guarantee a “stable supply” of oil to Cuba.

During a visit to Cuba last month, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko said during a meeting with Tourism Minister Juan Garcia Granda that he expected his country to become the leading source of visitors to the Caribbean nation.

“We support the aspiration of Cuba’s tourism minister and his objective of elevating the flow of tourists from Russia to 500,000 annually, with which Russia would occupy first place in that category, surpassing Canada,” Chernyshenko said in Havana.

Cuba and Russia recently decided to renew regular passenger air service on July 1, having suspended flights in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

And according to Chernyshenko, Moscow is also interested in helping Cuba renovate its tourism infrastructure. EFE mos/dr

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