Russian foreign minister heads to Cuba on first leg of Latin American tour

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will begin a three-day trip to Latin America today, where he will meet with Cuban

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will begin a three-day trip to Latin America today, where he will meet with Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez in Santiago de Cuba.

Talks between the two are expected to focus on building energy ties, in light of US sanctions against non-food exports to Cuba.

Havana and Moscow are two of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s main backers, supporting the authoritarian leader’s government with military, economic and diplomatic support. In turn, Venezuela has been meeting Cuba’s excess oil needs, after the latter suffered shortages owing to the US sanctions. Russian oil giant Rosneft has extended a $17 billion line of credit to Venezuela since 2006 and has helped Caracas market its crude oil.

Due to economic isolation from the sanctions, international banks and investors have become reluctant to conduct transactions involving Havana, which has harmed its infrastructure capacity. Moscow is helping Havana by repairing and updating railways, constructing energy blocks, training specialists, and cooperating on medicine under their Comprehensive Development Program, until 2030.

Medium-term ties will likely focus on drafting an energy supply agreement and exploring existing conventional and hydrocarbon sources. Rosneft is likely to be a major player in assisting Cuba with these energy plans.

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