Russia and Cuba vow to expand their “strategic” ties


MOSCOW (AP) – The leaders of Russia and Cuba have vowed to expand what they called their “strategic” ties and urged the United States to lift its blockade of Cuba.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel pledged Friday to develop political, economic and military cooperation between their nations.

Diaz-Canel, who replaced Raul Castro in April in a historic changing of the guard in Cuba, hailed the “brotherly” ties between Russia and Cuba.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union poured billions of dollars in supplies and subsidies to Cuba, its staunchest Latin American ally. But ties withered after the 1991 Soviet collapse as Russia, hit by an economic meltdown, withdrew its economic aid to Cuba.

Putin, who visited Cuba in 2000 and 2014, has sought to revive ties with the old Caribbean ally.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018. Diaz-Canel is in Moscow for three days of talks aimed to expanding cooperation between the two nations. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)