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Fostering Collaboration Beyond Borders: The Flourishing Partnership between Cuba and Russia

May 29, 2023

The Russian-Cuban cooperation has a long-standing history, rooted in their shared geopolitical interests and ideological affinities. The fact that Cuba and Russia are actively collaborating shows how close the two nations are becoming as friends and allies. Russia has been actively fostering business connections and providing assistance to Cuba in several areas over the past few years in this article some progress in terms of collaboration will be noted.


Source: Reuters

The Russian payment system Mir is being implemented in Cuba.

A team of Russian businessmen visited Cuba in March 2021 to talk about ways to increase economic relations between the two nations. During the visit, many agreements were struck, including one on the delivery of Russian commodities to Cuba.

Trade and economic interactions are a key area of cooperation. The deployment of the "Mir" payment system in Cuba, which would streamline settlements and save transfer costs, was agreed upon by Russia and Cuba in 2020.

On March 13, Havana's ATMs began accepting the Russian payment system. According to experts consulted by Sputnik, the project would benefit transactions by Russian visitors or businesses on the island, avoid the effects of blockades and sanctions, and strengthen its economic relations in industries like energy.

According to Professor Luis Rene Fernandez Tabio, a researcher at the University of Havana's International Economy Research Center, the implementation of the Mir system will increase Russian tourism to Cuba, with potential revenue from hotel, transportation, and culinary services [1].

Among the countries that send tourists to the biggest of the Antilles, Russia holds the top spots. Using carriers like Nordwind carriers, Royal Flights, and Azur-Air, it even overtook Canada as the island's primary market in 2021, reporting the arrival of 146,000 tourists.

The expert claims that it "contributes to the balance of payments and with it the country can import goods and services from the Eurasian nation," in addition to safeguarding the bilateral relationship from the detrimental effects of the US-imposed commercial, economic, and financial blockade on Havana for more than 60 years.

For Fernández Tabío it is also a window that helps to counteract the direct and collateral effects of the economic war waged against Russia by the West through the sanctions that forbid the import and export of goods, services, and technology after the start of Moscow's special operation in Ukraine in February 2022.

As a step away from the SWIFT system, the implementation of the Mir payment system "could favor the incorporation of Cuba to a method of transactions at the moment it becomes generalized, either within the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) or other alternative mechanisms created to escape the predominance of the dollar and all of its system of unilateral coercive economic measures, illegal from any point of view and violators of human rights", according to the study.

According to Fernández Tabío, this approach might lessen the economic vulnerability of Cuba. "It always depends on what we do, but these ruble entries will enable debt payments as well as the purchase of goods like wheat and hydrocarbons without the need for foreign money". Russian cards and the ruble as a convertible currency are directly recognized by the Cuban banking system," he stated.

The integration of the Mir system in Cuba was about to be finished, according to Andrei Guskov, the Russian ambassador to Havana, who also emphasized that the introduction of independent payment mechanisms will have a positive impact on the tourism industry and bilateral relations generally.

The envoy said that this action should increase the number of Russian visitors visiting the Island, which saw more than 54,000 arrive in 2022, about a third fewer than the 146,000 who visited in 2021.

Equipment development

The Kremlin will re-equip the Russian-Cuban regional center for the training of fire and rescue specialists, it was learned following a meeting between the head of the Russian Emergencies Ministry, Alexander Kurenkov, and Cuban Interior Minister Lázaro Alberto lvarez Casas, who is taking part in the 11th International Conference of High Representatives for Security Affairs in Russia [2]. Tankers, foam firefighting trucks, and airport firefighting gear are all part of the project.

According to the information supplied by the aforementioned media, the project comprises foam fire extinguishing vehicles, airport fire extinguishing equipment, tanker trucks, as well as a wide range of specialist equipment.

The message does not give a precise date but indicates that the equipment would be purchased and delivered to Cuba within the current year.

Additionally, they state that 24 Cuban cadets are presently undergoing training at one of the higher education facilities run by the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations for Cuba, where more than 200 fire safety professionals have already received training.

The agreement between the Russian counterpart and the Cuban Ministry of the Interior and the Civil Defense General Staff included a support program aimed at modernizing the national civil defense system in Cuba in order to turn it into "a single global anti-crisis network" and the provision of material to the Cuban government for response to crisis situations, such as tents and seismometers. It also included the training of highly specialized firefighters in Russia.

They said that over 22,000 tons of food, medications, and medical supplies had been sent to Cuba by the Ministry of Emergency Situations in the last five years.

Recent meetings between representatives

On May 19, 2023, Havana Miguel Diáz Canel Bermdez, the president of the Republic of Cuba, and Dimitri Chernyshenko, the vice president of the Government of the Russian Federation, met on Friday at the National Hotel [3].

The president described the visit to the island by the also co-chairman of the Intergovernmental Commission during the Cuba-Russia Business Economic Forum, whose closing ceremony took place in the 1930 Hall of the iconic Havana hotel, as a significant and important visit that marks a milestone in relations between the two countries.

After the Forum, which saw the signing of eight significant documents on topics including macroeconomics, artificial intelligence, wheat supply, and joint venture development, Diáz-Canel appreciated in his conversation with Chernyshenko Russia's understanding of the situation in Cuba and its willingness to follow through on the agreements that were reached as a result of their discussions.

According to Diáz-Canel, a fantastic work dynamic has been released in order to uphold those agreements. He thought back on how significant Russian businesses and high-ranking Russian government officials had just visited Cuba. Without a question, he said, this is a really exceptional time in bilateral relations.

At the conclusion of the 20th session of the Cuba-Russia Intergovernmental Commission, where it was decided to expand economic and trade cooperation in sectors like construction, sugar production, and sports, Cuba inaugurates an electric steel mill with Russian funding as of May 19, 2023 in Cuba.

Thanks to funding from the Russian government, Cuba was able to officially open the UEB Electric Steel Mill, a division of the José Mart Iron and Steel Company (Antillana de Acero). Since last April, it has been undergoing the startup phase. The investment process started in 2020 with national state finance from a Russian government fund that permitted the renovation of six factories, according to comments made by Omar Ramón Reyes Ricardo, director of the Electric Steel Mill, as published by the Cuban News Agency (ACN).

In this project, which will employ more than 500 people and in which more than 20 Russian businesses have engaged, more than 95 million dollars have been invested, according to Sputnik. According to Russian media, the Electric Steel Mill will produce between 220,000 and 230,000 tons of liquid steel annually and has more than 90% of its equipment developed in Russia or using Russian technology. Crude oil and its derivatives made up 92% of Russia's exports, and the island's biggest exports to that nation were tobacco, rum, coffee, and agricultural products.

At the commission's inauguration, Cabrisas stated that President Miguel Diaz-Canel of Cuba's visit to Russia at the end of the previous year "has awakened a dynamic between the two countries" that is now taking shape. Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia, as well as Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the State Duma, Maksim Oreshkin, the secretary of the Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, Boris Yurievich, the head of the bilateral business council, and Igor Sechin, the CEO of state oil giant Rosneft, have all visited the island so far in 2023.

As a result, the level of collaboration between Cuba and Russia keeps rising, enabling the two nations to deepen their friendship and advancing their economies and commerce.

The Nations reaffirm their commitment in scientific collaboration.

The Russian-Cuban Working Group met during the XX Session of the Cuban-Russian Intergovernmental Commission for Economic-Commercial Collaboration and Scientific-Technical Cooperation, which was held in Havana on May 17. The advances and perspectives of collaboration in science and technology were evaluated.

The Protocol of the Working Group on Cooperation in Science, Technology, and the Environment was signed by the delegation heads from each country—Piotr Aleksandrovich Kucherenko, Secretary of State and Deputy Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, and Armando Rodríguez Batista, Vice Minister of Science, Technology, and the Environment of the Republic of Cuba.

The parties acknowledged at the conference that interactions between Russian and Cuban scientific institutions are made in an effort to enhance bilateral cooperation that will benefit both sides. To strengthen collaboration between Cuban and Russian experts in a variety of scientific fields, certain organizations, in particular, have laid out specific initiatives [4].

They also believed that the launching of calls for contests for scientific projects involving research institutes and universities from the Russian Federation and the Republic of Cuba helped to advance the development of scientific and technical cooperation between the two nations.

The delegates reaffirmed their shared desire in advancing the Russian-Cuban collaboration's primary astronomical direction and emphasized the necessity of timely and sustainable finance for the works and projects undertaken as part of this partnership.

Likewise, they agreed on the importance of establishing scientific collaboration with the Russian Academy of Sciences' Pushkov Institute of Terrestrial Magnetism, Ionosphere, and Radio Wave Propagation, which would allow further studies of geomagnetic variability, ionospheric sounding, and the influence of solar activity over Cuba, which is required for the assurance of radio transmissions and the forecast of special weather.

During the exchange, Cuban and Russian Federation representatives discussed the need to continue negotiations on the four-part project document between the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Aircraft Materials (viam), the Center for Environmental Studies of Cienfuegos (CEAC), the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment (Citma), and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment (Mincex) of the Republic of Cuba.

Among the potential future collaboration paths is one involving the continuation of the work of the joint Russian-Cuban paleontological expedition to collect and research fossil creatures in Cuba, with geographic expansion and the formation of additional expeditionary detachments.

The parties agreed that it would be beneficial to investigate the prospect of strengthening bilateral scientific collaboration in agriculture, particularly in the industrial production of citrus, for the sake of import substitution and agricultural security.

Among the several options for the outcomes of the Federal University of the South's collaboration with various Cuban universities were deemed positive, including one in Havana, of Informatics Sciences (UCI), the Central Marta Abreu de Las Villas, the Agraria de La Habana, the Technological of Havana of José Antonio Echeverra (CUJAE), and that of Holgun. Similarly, cooperation within the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (IUIN) and the potential for future development were rated favourably. In this context, both countries will work to discover new ways to enhance this cooperation, particularly by increasing the involvement of Cuban scientists in the IUIN's research and training programs.

According to reports, the Working Group meeting was held in an atmosphere of constructive dialogue, friendship, and mutual understanding, confirming the high level of bilateral relations and the parties' desire to strengthen bilateral cooperation in science and technology.

Recently they have agreed on ten investment projects

According to Cuba's deputy prime minister, Ricardo Cabrisas, Russia and Cuba are engaged in ten investment projects and want to expand their mutually beneficial collaboration in the scientific and technological fields [5].

The announcement of Prime Minister Manuel Marrero's travel to Russia was made by Cabrisas, who is also the Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment (Mincex), during the 20th session of the Intergovernmental Commission for Economic-Commercial and Scientific-Technical Collaboration.

Marrero will attend the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) Council in Sochi, Russia, in June, according to Cabrisas. According to the deputy head of state, Cuba has the potential to serve as a bridge connecting Eurasia with Latin America and the Caribbean. The Mincex minister brought up the future Games of the Future, which will include athletes from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS). He also expressed his appreciation for the actions taken to renegotiate Cuba's debt as well as for the continuation of collaboration with Russia to ensure the supply of wheat and electricity.

He also mentioned specific plans for the restoration of the Antillana de Acero José Mart metallurgical firm and the restoration of the Cuban air fleet, which includes aircraft like the TU-204 and the Il-96. The deputy minister of Cuba spoke about the potential for expanding and diversifying exports to Russia, particularly those in the fields of biotechnology, tourism, and health services.


The long-standing ties between Cuba and Russia have significantly influenced the geopolitical environment of the area. Both countries have maintained strong diplomatic connections and reciprocal support for each other's interests despite the obstacles provided by outside forces and shifting global dynamics. From an economic and political perspective, this alliance has given Russia a foothold in the Americas while also enabling Cuba to endure pressure from the outside world and economic sanctions. Their close ties will surely continue to benefit both nations and strengthen their respective positions in the international arena as they navigate the difficult global terrain. The significance of the relationship between Cuba and Russia resides in their capacity to cooperate in order to defend their common goals and ideals while also advancing regional peace and harmony.


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