Russian foreign minister visits Cuba, condemns U.S. sanctions

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HAVANA — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov condemned U.S. sanctions on Cuba on Thursday as he visited the island and met with top leaders, including newly re-elected President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

Lavrov was on the last leg of a Latin American tour that has taken him to Brazil, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

The Russian foreign minister met with Díaz-Canel and semi-retired but still influential leader Raul Castro, according to photographs published by the Communist Party newspaper Granma, although no further details were offered on the content of the meetings.

During his visit to the island nation, which for decades was a staunch Moscow ally, Lavrov condemned the American economic sanctions on Cuba, and blasted the U.S. for seeking to impose “its will on the world,” according to a dispatch on the state media outlet Cubadebate.

Earlier in the day, Lavrov met with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodríguez and took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at a memorial in Havana for Cuban independence hero José Martí.

Rodríguez, for his part, rejected what he called the “expansionist aspirations” of NATO and the sanctions imposed on Russia.

Cuba has had an extensive relationship with Moscow since the 1960s, when it joined the bloc of socialist countries led by the then Soviet Union, receiving many vital imports – fertilizers, industrial equipment, spare parts and, above all, oil – in exchange for sugar.

Russia, along with Venezuela, is one of Cuba’s few suppliers of oil, sending an undetermined amount to the island, which is undergoing a severe energy crisis.

Also, two weeks ago, Cuban banks started to accept payments with MIR cards, a payment system in Russia that allows Russian tourists to make cash withdrawals and convert rubles to Cuban pesos.

MIR cards are accepted in other partner countries of Russia, including Turkey and Vietnam, and are operated by the state-owned Russian National Card Payment System.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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