Cuba and Russia Sign New Defense Agreement

(Telesur) – The deal is designed to help Cuba “respond to modern challenges” and extends the historical partnership between the two countries. 

Cuba and Russia signed a new defense technology agreement Thursday evening which will increase cooperation and help modernize Cuba’s armed forces until 2020.

The deal signed in Havana further adds to Russia’s historical assistance of the socialist nation. The deal was signed at the Russian-Cuban intergovernmental commission in Havana by Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

Rogozin stressed that the agreement was squarely focused on “methodological assistance” and would not include arms sales.

“We have our own methodology, experts knowing how to ensure short-term and near-term planning. This kind of assistance will be provided,” he said.

Rogozin said that Cuba will be given “general guidelines” which will help modernize and refit its equipment “to ensure total security of Cuba and to respond to modern challenges.”

At the meeting, Rogozin and Vice President of Cuba’s Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz also signed six more cooperation agreements spanning from transport, healthcare, construction and generating power.

Historically, the two countries have enjoyed close military, diplomatic, and cultural ties and the majority of Cuba’s military equipment has come from the former Soviet Union.  

Even after the Soviet Union’s collapse, successive Russian governments have maintained close relations with the socialist island. In September, Russia offered Cuba 55 bilateral cooperation projects for infrastructure and economic development totaling almost US$4 billion.

In 2013, Cuba’s debt to Russia – around US$30 billion, was written off by the Kremlin. Russia has also been a strong critic of the U.S. blockade which has sucked US$753.7 billion over the last six decades from Cuba’s economy.

Up until 2002 Russia operated an intelligence center in Lourdes which was the largest base of its kind operated by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service outside of the Russian Federation.

The recent death of former president and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump ushers in a new era in Cuban politics and in particular a sense of uncertainty for its relations with Washington after the Obama administration has worked to renew and normalize diplomatic relations with Havana. Many in Cuba are worried that Trump’s incoming administration, aided by a Republican-controlled Congress, will unravel the recent progress made between the former Cold War rivals.

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