Russia Sends 24 Tons of Aid to Cuba and, for Now, Doesn’t Speak of a Military Deployment

A Russian shipment of donations to Cuba with 24 tons of medical material. (Embassy of Russia in Cuba)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 14 January 2021 — Russia has sent 24 tons of medical aid to Cuba, including syringes and protective equipment for health workers. The information was offered by the Eurasian country’s own embassy on the island in a Twitter message that it published a few hours before also sharing the news of a possible deployment of its troops in Cuba and Venezuela in the framework of the confrontation with NATO.

“Russia donated humanitarian aid to Cuba that includes multipurpose medical protective suits and injection syringes with a total weight of almost 24 tons,” says Thursday’s tweet, which is accompanied by images of the cargo.

Last year, during the summer months and coinciding with the worst moment of the pandemic on the island, Russia sent tons of humanitarian aid, divided between food and medicine or medical supplies.

In August, a shipment of 41.5 tons of food arrived, made up of wheat flour, canned meat and sunflower oil. A month earlier, 88 tons entered, also of food, personal protective equipment and more than a million masks.

In addition, Russia has also sent respirators and oxygen concentrators and their help was very relevant at a time when the island was going through a crisis due to gas shortages, essential for respiratory care, including the need caused by covid.

In mid-August, a Russian military team brought in and helped set up a medicinal oxygen plant, according to authorities, in just half a day, at a Cuban base.

“Having put it into operation gives us another guarantee and helps a lot,” said Miguel Díaz-Canel, who attended a propaganda act to supervise the situation and praised those who made “the heroics of putting it into operation in record time possible.”

Russia and Cuba have revitalized the good relations that already existed during the time of the Soviet Union in recent years. The greatest aid is produced in the financial field, where the country has forgiven the Island 90% of the debt resulting from an agreement during the mandate of Raúl Castro.

Cuba is seriously behind on payments of the remaining amount, which had to be returned in easy installments, but Havana stopped paying it in 2020. However, last year, the parties agreed on a two-year moratorium for its return.

Russia considered that the restructuring of the debt would not have a significant impact, since the deficit due to non-payment is 57 million dollars, but between 2022 and 2027 Cuba will return what it owes, in addition to 11 million dollars in interest for the delay.

As a background to this constant exchange, the possibility of Russia deploying troops in Havana and Caracas appeared yesterday to put pressure on the US in the negotiations it is carrying out with NATO.

Russia opposes the expansion of NATO to the east and that organization defends that small countries can join the alliance if they wish and meet the requirements.

This Friday, during his usual press conference at the beginning of the year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned the US and NATO that “he will not wait forever” for a response to his demands to establish legally binding security guarantees to prevent expansion and deployment of weapons near its borders.

“We are waiting for a written response from our colleagues. We believe that they understand the need to do it immediately, and to do it in writing. We will not wait until forever,” he said, in his press conference at the beginning of the year.

Asked about the alleged strengthening of its military presence outside its borders in case its demands are not met, Lavrov replied that Russia has “extensive military ties with our partners and allies and we have a presence in various regions of the world.”

“This is a matter of bilateral relations,” Lavrov said, referring to yesterday’s statements by Sergei Ryabkov, deputy foreign minister and representative in the negotiations with the US in Geneva.


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