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Report: Russia to Loan Cuba $50 Million to Buy Their Weapons

A Kremlin-backed plan to raise the retirement age has triggered street protests and led to a major drop in Putin's approval ratings
AFP/Dmitri Lovetsky

The Russian government plans to loan Cuba’s communist dictatorship $50 million to buy their military equipment. Raúl Castro’s subordinate, President Miguel Díaz-Canel, is scheduled to meet Vladimir Putin in Moscow later this week.

According to a report from the Russian newspaper Kommersant, a significant arms deal is expected to be signed following a series of meetings of the Cuba-Russia Intergovernmental Commission this week.

Sources who spoke to the newspaper said that items on the agenda include the sale of armored vehicles, helicopters, and other weapons, while they are also planning to buy “industrial equipment” through other contracts with Russia.

The Cuban News Agency reported that Cuba’s vice president of the Council of Ministers, Ricardo Cabrisas, and first prime minister of Russia Yuri Borisov, would lead the bilateral meeting.

Díaz-Canel and Putin first met in Havana in 2014, before another meeting in Moscow in 2016 when the Cuban leader was vice president. According to Putin’s office, the two leaders will discuss “the current state and prospects for further deepening Russian-Cuban strategic partnership in various spheres.”

The Cuban foreign ministry announced Díaz-Canel also plans to meet with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, before making trips to visit communist allies in China, Vietnam, Laos, and North Korea in a bid to attract further investment and support into the island’s floundering economy.

Such dealings are an indication of the Cuban regime’s efforts to boost security and forge strong relations with other autocratic governments as the Trump administration puts pressure on the regime through international venues, highlighting its human rights abuses and infiltration into governments like Venezuela. Despite exerting massive influence over the Maduro regime in Venezuela, the country’s own dire economic predicament has led to a dramatic fall in oil production, exports, and other financial support on which the Cuban economy used to rely.

Relations with Russia appear to be thriving. In April, Putin sent a message of congratulations to Miguel Díaz-Canel on taking on the ceremonial title of “president,” expressing his “confidence that the country will continue to achieve the goals proclaimed after the Cuban revolution under new leadership.”

Reports over recent years have found that Russia has considered opening a permanent military base on the island, while also replacing Venezuelas the country’s main oil provider. However, officials in Moscow have previously questioned the regime’s ability to pay for such products, with Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak warning last year that their relationship was not based on “charity.”

Follow Ben Kew on Facebook, Twitter at @ben_kew, or email him at bkew@breitbart.com.

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