- Russia is one of Cuba’s closest allies and most important financial backers.
- The communist government in Havana has never clearly condemned the Russian war against Ukraine.
- Russia’s defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
Cuban authorities are cracking down on alleged recruitment attempts by Cuban mercenaries for the Russian war against Ukraine.
A network in Russia is trying to recruit Cubans in Cuba and Russia for the war in Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry in Havana said.
Some attempts at recruitment had already been stopped and criminal proceedings had been initiated against those responsible.
There was initially no reaction from Russia.
“Cuba takes a clear stance against mercenarism and actively advocates against this practice at the United Nations,” the ministry statement said.
“Cuba does not participate in the war in Ukraine. We take firm action against anyone who participates in recruitment or mercenarism from our territory for the purpose of Cuban citizens taking up arms against any country.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel at Moscow’s Grand Kremlin Palace in 2018. Source: Getty / Mikhail Svetlov
Earlier, the Spanish-language US broadcaster América TeVé had reported that Cubans had been recruited to fight on the side of Russia in Ukraine.
Some of the Cubans were also lured to Russia with false promises.
The channel América TeVé is considered very critical of the authoritarian government in Havana.
Russia and Cuba traditionally maintain friendly relations.
For the heavily indebted Caribbean island, Russia is one of its closest allies and most important financial backers.
The communist government in Havana has never clearly condemned the Russian war against Ukraine.
As late as November 2022, Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel visited his counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow.