Russia seeking to rebuild relations with Cuba

Russia seeking to rebuild relations with CubaDec. 23 (The Voice of Russia) – Economic relations between Russia and Cuba represent a separate matter. They’ve had ups and downs. The dramatic slump in the economic ties between the two countries in late 1990s was a severe test for survival ability of the country that has labored under a U.S. economic embargo for decades.On its side, Russia also suffered substantial losses. Recent radical economic changes in both states bring hope bilateral relations will be improved.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to rebuild relations with Cuba, describing the island as the friend and longest-standing partner of Russia in Latin America.

In September this year, trade between Russia and Cuba stood at $170 million, according to the data from Cuba’s National Bureau of Statistics and Information.Cuba’s total export earnings are around $18 billion, including tourism, medical and educational services.

In February this year, Moscow and Havana signed an agreement to write off 90% of Cuba’s $32 billion debt to the defunct Soviet Union. Cuba defaulted on its debt in the late 1980s but recently has been trying to restructure the old debts to improve its international credibility.The current deal is thought to end a 20-year squabble and open the way for more investment and trade. The two sides finalized the deal in Moscow this fall.

Russian companies are interested in investing in the Cuban energy sector, as well as participating in the modernization of power plants and oil extraction. Russian firm Zarubezhneft has recently signed long-term contracts with state company Cubapetroleo for geology surveys in two onshore and two offshore blocks. Based on the production sharing agreement, the contracts cover the period up to late 2034. On its side, Cuba is keen to buy Russian aircraft. During his visit to Cuba in February this year, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev reached an agreement to deliver Russian airplanes worth $650 million. The two states also agreed on the construction of an international air transportation hub in the city of San Antonio de los Banos near Havana. Tourism is of paramount importance for Cuba, which is willing to attract more Russian travelers.
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