Russian diplomat in Cuba for talks on investment projects

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Alekseyevich Nebenzya was in Havana Wednesday and Thursday (Feb. 4-5) for expanded talks with Cuban officials on trade and bilateral ties, reported the agencies Prensa Latina and TASS.

The Russian diplomat met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez and Ricardo Cabrisas, vice president of the Council of State.

“At the meeting with Cabrisas, we discussed economic cooperation in detail and the decisions made last Dec. 20 during the inter-governmental commission meeting in Havana, attended by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin,” Nebenzya told Prensa Latina.

Among the projects discussed were the construction of four power plants with a total output of 800 megawatts, improvements to the José Martí iron-and-steel works in Havana, and the participation of the Russian oil giant Zarubezhneft in the offshore exploration for crude.

The commission will meet again in April in Kazan, Tatarstan, to discuss those projects further, the Russian visitor said.

During his visit to Havana last July, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to write off 90 percent, or almost $32 billion, of Cuba’s Soviet-era debt and to reinvest the remaining 10 percent in projects that would benefit the Cuban economy.

The deputy foreign minister told the press agency TASS that Russia was diversifying international ties, looking also to Latin America, but noted that Moscow “is not going to do this at the expense of cooperation with Europe.”

[For background on Russia’s turn toward Latin America, click here and here.]

The development of ties with other states “comes in addition to traditional cooperation with European countries, with Europe, which remains the main trade and economic partner of Russia,” Nebenzya said.

Cuba and Russia shared a common interest in seeing “a just and polycentric world order, based on equality, adherence to international law and respect for it, with the United Nations playing a central role,” he added.

Nebenzya said that he had “congratulated Cuba for the great success of its diplomacy and political leadership after the announcement of negotiations to reestablish diplomatic relations with the United States.”

He called the process begun Dec. 17 “a correct step but only the beginning of a long journey.”

[For background in Progreso Weekly about Russian reaction to Cuba-U.S. talks, click here]

[For President Putin’s views on relations between Russia and Latin America, including Cuba, click here.]

Photo: Alekseyevich Nebenzya and Ricardo Cabrisas

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