14ymedio, Havana, 27 June 2023 — The parsimony of Havana in the face of the armed rebellion of the Wagner mercenary group against Vladimir Putin does not seem to have embittered the Island’s alliance with the Kremlin: the Cuban Minister of the Armed Forces, Álvaro López Miera, is the first senior foreign official to visit Russia after last Saturday’s tension, with the aim of discussing the realization of “a series of joint projects in the technical-military field.”
Wearing a full-dress uniform, reminiscent of the Soviet era and currently worn by the Russian military, López Miera was received this Tuesday, with all protocol, by the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, at the headquarters of his ministry. The Cuban press has not yet said a word about the general’s visit to Moscow.
According to the Russian agency Sputnik, Shoigu proposed to his counterpart “to address in detail all existing and promising cooperation projects in the military field.” The minister assured that there was “a wide variety of issues” in which Russia could support Cuba, including “technical” aid to the Island’s Army.
He praised Cuba as “an important partner” that demonstrated “a complete understanding of the reasons” that led Putin to invade Ukraine, although he did not allude to the cautious silence that, during all the tension with the Wagner troops, the Havana regime maintained. The bilateral dialogue, Shoiguu summarized, is in the best of states, and they “are taking measures” to “protect their cooperation” against international sanctions.
“Russia is willing to provide assistance to Cuba,” the soldier promised López Miera, although both Sputnik and other media that reported the visit avoided defining the exact content of that “strategic” aid.
On June 13, Putin decorated Lopez Miera with the Order of Friendship, for his “important contribution” to the “strengthening of military and technical-military cooperation between the two countries,” Prensa Latina reported.
Born in 1943 and minister of the Armed Forces since 2021, López Miera was part of Cuba’s military interventions in Angola and Ethiopia. He is one of the senior Cuban officials sanctioned by the U.S. Government “for his involvement in human rights violations.”
The resignation of Shoigu and Valeri Gueràsimov, head of the Russian General Staff, was one of the demands initially defended by the Wagner group and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who blamed both soldiers for the “chaos” that the battlefront had become in Ukraine. After the mercenaries advanced in the direction of Moscow and took – without resistance – the city of Rostov, Prigozhin stopped the march on the pretext of avoiding the “spilling of blood.” The president of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, mediated between the Kremlin and Prigozhin, who ended up stopping the uprising 24 hours after starting it.
Later, when everything was over, Miguel Díaz-Canel issued a tweet expressing his “total conviction” for Russia’s ability to maintain “unity and constitutional order.” The Cuban ruler added: “I express the solidarity of the people and government of Cuba to the esteemed President Putin and the brotherly people of the Russian Federation, in the face of attempts to provoke an armed rebellion in the nation.”
The Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez, limited himself to sharing Díaz-Canel’s message while the official press was slow to publish the news of the rebellion, in total agreement with the version of state media such as Russia Today.
Other Russian allies in the region, such as Venezuela and Nicaragua, quickly spoke out in support of the Kremlin. Nicolás Maduro sent an “arm of solidarity and support” to Putin during an event with the military, while Daniel Ortega said that his government will be “always aware” of what happens with Russia and with the “brother president, comrade and comrade Vladimir Putin.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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