Wow. Cuba of all countries openly politically and legally attacking Russia of all nations. But as this story indicates that’s exactly what has happened.
Now, if you weren’t born and grew up during the Cold War between the USSR (Russia) and the U.S./Free World or were alive before it kicked off the magnitude of this is something you will never fully understand. However, from the time Castro took over Cuba up though the end of the Cold War and for decades after the USSR dissolved Cuba and Russia were close allies. Hell, Cuba depended on Russia for decades! Yes, Cuba has more recently grown closer to and more dependent on China than Russia but there’s plenty of the old-guard in Cuba who still hold a measure of gratitude for and loyalty to Russia.
Russia, because of Putin has increasingly become an international pariah due to the disastrous war Pootie launched against Ukraine. Most people saw it (from the beginning) for what it was, his bold move to set an unstoppable boulder rolling down the hill – the boulder being a reborn Soviet Union. You know, the corrupt one that became so hollowed out it collapsed several decades ago. But for Pootie the collapse of the USSR was the worst calamity in world history, and he blamed the United States and NATO and like some spoiled rich schoolkid vowed that one day when he had his daddy’s power and money he’d make the other kids pay. I could get into a lot of detail about energy and the world’s food (grains) supply but don’t want to get bogged down.
This is geopolitics. The war in Ukraine started off badly and despite successes in the south of Ukraine quickly turned into a disaster. Not only was their no Russian version of “Blitzkrieg” (translated from German the word means Lightening War) that would result in a decapitated Ukrainian government in Kyiv, but what turned out to be a long and protracted war. A war Russia, for all its incredibly huge stockpiles of artillery and shells has been unable to win. Not winning is as bad as losing, as just keeping the war going has taken an already financially shaky country and made it teeter increasingly over the edge of complete collapse.
The “A gas station with nukes” line turned out to be eerily accurate and with western Europe showing an unforeseen ability to wean itself from a huge reliance on Russian oil and gas left Russia in a real lurch. Russia’s ability to steal all of Ukraine’s grain/agricultural output has also been problematic. Worst of all for Russia and Putin in particular is the problem of coming up with soldiers to fight in Ukraine without having to fully mobilize. He’s already created discontent with measures he’s taken to round up people to fight. It’s even causing more open dissent in Russia. Now, with his most effective military asset which has not been the Russia Army but instead the Wagner Group in flux since the aborted coup attempt Pootie is really in trouble.
But he’s long been engaged in some creative means to “draft” fighters without having to press-gang every Russian male able to hold a rifle and walk into his army. He’s gone to neighboring countries that still had some loyalty to him for example. Syria has proven a useful source of fighters. And we now see he’d decided that Cubans, and not just Cubans unfortunate enough to have been in Russia are being forced to fight for him in Ukraine.
Cuba has clearly had enough. From Al Jazeera:
Cuba has uncovered a human trafficking ring that has coerced Cuban citizens to fight for Russia in the war in Ukraine, its foreign ministry said, adding that authorities were working to “neutralize and dismantle” the network.
The ministry’s statement on Monday gave few details but noted the trafficking ring was operating both in the Caribbean island nation and within Russia.
What jumped out at me was the use of the explosive term “human trafficking.” When we hear or read about human trafficking it’s about people forced into sex work. This puts an whole new spin on the practice.
Cuba isn’t pulling any punches. They are making it clear to the world that 1) They don’t support Putin’s/Russia’s war in Ukraine, and 2) that they aren’t going to put up with their citizens being part of any Russian human trafficking ring trying to round up troops for Russia to use.
“Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine. It is acting and will act vigorously against whoever, from the national territory, participates in any form of human trafficking for the purposes of recruitment of mercenarism so that Cuban citizens use weapons against any country.”
It seems Trump isn’t the only one getting publicly dumped on these days. Word of this will slowly spread in Russia and I keep wondering how much longer the shield of Praetorian Guards protecting Putin is going to hold up. Oligarchs not in Russia who even know some of the players suddenly have to sweat people showing up to haul them off to the Hague for a little chat followed by a prosecution. And in the meantime having their assets frozen.
CUBA calling out Russia this way? Keep an eye on this because it could turn into something huge, like Putin losing power (and almost certainly his life) and a meaningful peace conference to start figuring out how to both end this awful war and rebuild.