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Cuban officers conclude Russia journey with agreements on oil, wheat, and renewed tourism

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HAVANA, Cuba — Cuba mentioned Tuesday it’s reaffirming its alliance with Russia by way of a collection of agreements thought of key for the island nation, together with on the availability of oil, the sale of wheat and the resumption of flights between each nations that had been halted by the struggle in Ukraine.

The agreements between two longtime allies going through financial sanctions from the USA had been the results of a current go to by Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero to Russia and had been disclosed Tuesday by Gerardo Peñalver, Cuba’s vice minister of international affairs, in an interview with state-run Cubadebate web site.

“There was progress within the high-level political dialogue, considering that each nations are strategic allies and are below the impact of unilateral coercive measures,” mentioned Peñalver, who was in Russia with Marrero and different high-level officers from June 6-17.

It was the latest in a collection of conferences between Russian and Cuban officers searching for to strengthen their strategic ties.

Officers did not present particulars on the content material of the agreements signed in Russia or these signed in Havana within the earlier months, however Peñalver talked about some in key sectors, together with the persevering with provide of fuels and lubricants “in troublesome moments” for the island, and the renewal of flights between Russia and Cuba beginning July 1.

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Peñalver additionally talked about the enlargement of MIR playing cards, a cost system in Russia that permits Russian vacationers to make money withdrawals and convert rubles to Cuban pesos.

MIR playing cards are accepted in different accomplice nations of Russia, together with Turkey and Vietnam, and are operated by the state-owned Russian Nationwide Card Fee System.

Marrero’s go to included a gathering with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, and to St. Petersburg to attend the worldwide financial discussion board. In accordance with Russian figures, the bilateral trade in 2022 closed at about $451 million. Official Cuban statistics indicated that commerce between each nations reached $633 million in 2021, up from $320 million in 2020.

The announcement comes at a second of renewed tensions between Washington and Russia, with U.S.-backed Ukrainian forces searching for to expel Russians from their territory. It additionally comes as U.S. confirmed that China has been working a spy base in Cuba since at the very least 2019, a part of a worldwide effort by Beijing to improve its intelligence-gathering capabilities.

Requested about covert Chinese language motion on the island, Nationwide Safety Council spokesperson John Kirby on Tuesday informed reporters the U.S. will proceed to take steps to thwart it.

“It’s not like we aren’t conscious of it. It’s not like we haven’t been monitoring it,” Kirby mentioned. “And fairly frankly, it’s not like we haven’t taken steps — and we’ll proceed to take steps —- to thwart it and to have the ability to defend our personal secrets and techniques and our personal nationwide safety.”

Cuba’s Deputy Overseas Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío denied stories of such operations in a Twitter put up on June 10.

“The slanderous hypothesis continues, evidently promoted by sure media to trigger hurt and alarm with out observing minimal patterns of communication and with out offering information or proof to help what they disseminate,” he wrote.


AP author Aamer Madhani contributed from Washington.

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