Español Three years ago, former President Barack Obama announced the beginning of normalized relations between the United States and Cuba, but the “thaw” of their historically icy relationship has come to an abrupt end with the arrival of Donald Trump. He has pledged to hold Raúl Castro’s regime to a higher standard than his predecessor, expecting the island government to respect the human rights of opposition members and dissidents, as well as to hold free, transparent elections on the island.
The tense diplomatic and economic situation between the Cuban regime and the US has caused other allies of the Caribbean country such as Russia to step up their foreign policy approach to dealing with the island. Vladimir Putin’s administration has expressed its “unshakeable solidarity” with Cuba as an attempt to win favor with the island.
Prior to Putin’a lifeline, relations between the two countries had declined both politically and commercially. Recently, Castro welcomed Igor Sechin, President of the Russian oil company Rosnef, to demonstrate their positive, growing relationship.
Castro met with the Russian official at the headquarters of the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party of Cuba. Vice President and Secretary of Economy and Planning Ricardo Cabrisas was also reportedly at the meeting.
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Last May, the Rosnef, the largest oil company in Russia, began shipments of 250,000 tons of oil, after striking a deal with the Cuban company Cubametales. The deal was signed in March, and is worth an estimated US $100 million. The Cuban regime asked the Russian government to “ensure supply” to the island, after the shipments from Venezuela were reduced due to an ongoing economic crisis.
Despite the deal with Russia, Venezuela continues to be the main supplier of petroleum in Cuba, as both countries signed an energy agreement with privileged prices that involves receiving more than 100,000 barrels in exchange for Cuban professionals providing services in Venezuela.