The Cuban-Russian alliance is not a new phenomenon, but the recent military activity of Cubans fighting alongside Russian forces in Ukraine has brought the relationship to the forefront.
For centuries, Cuba and Russia have shared strong political and economic ties. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union supplied much of Cuba’s economic necessities, including oil and machinery, and supported Cuban military training. This close relationship has endured through the 21st century, with Russia providing Cuba with essential imports that the United States has failed to meet.
The partnership was strengthened in 2014 when Russia began to provide military support to Ukraine against its pro-Western separatists. Dozens of Cuban forces were deployed to Ukraine, with some being identified as members of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR). These Cuban military personnel were placed in combat positions, covering a terrain similar to what they had faced during the Cold War.
The important role of Cuban forces in Ukraine cannot be understated. Cubans have reportedly been among the most effective troops operating in the region, likely due to their extensive military training and combat experience. For example, an analysis by the Atlantic Council, an international relations think tank, concluded that Cuban military advisors played a “critical role” in achieving Russia’s political objectives in the region.
It remains to be seen how their deployment in Ukraine will affect the Cuban-Russian alliance in the long term, but for the moment, the relationship appears to be going strong. In addition to providing Cuba with resources, the Russian government has offered its support and expressed admiration for the Cuban people’s commitment to defending its ally.
Clearly, the two nations have a very special relationship, and it is likely to remain so in the years to come. Cuba’s commitment to standing with Russia in Ukraine demonstrates the strength of their bond and the trust between the two countries. With Cuba’s unique military strength, the alliance could just be the beginning for the two nations.