Global Security Headlines

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Havana-Moscow Tango on Washington's Doorstep

credit: AFP

The Russia-Cuba tango is an extension of Moscow's push to strengthen ties with Latin America at the expense of Washington.

Perceived and real deficiencies in the former Bush Administration's policy toward the region provided an opening to not only Russia, but China, too.

What are the motives for rekindling a relationship that for the most part languished after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991?

Observers point to three key reasons: 1) oil, 2) money, and 3) Russian mischief in Washington's backyard.

Cuba is aggressively exploring oil in the Gulf of Mexico and Russian oil company Lukkoil wants a share.

Cash-strapped Cuba gladly accepted a recent $20 million loan to buy construction materials and equipment. Cuba is desperate from cash and a friend in need is a friend indeed.

Russian mischief is highlighted by the visit of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin on July 30 to Havana, an old Cuban hand in the KGB responsible for many secretive arms transfers in the region during the Cold War. Sechin is also a close ally of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Cuba, laying off the southern US coast, could return to be a linchpin in Moscow's strategy to bring Russian influence to Washington's periphery.

Certainly there exist enough motives for an even closer Havana-Moscow partnership going forward given a regional climate at the moment tilted against Washington and more open to outsiders.

No comments: