Despite mounting evidence of its involvement in the war in Ukraine, the communist regime in Cuba is attempting to cover up its military intervention in the conflict and assistance to Russia.

Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has promoted the narrative, broadcast worldwide, that a clandestine network trafficked hundreds of Cuban men sent to fight in Ukraine. Furthermore, it has blamed this criminal enterprise on 17 Cuban citizens, who face severe punishment. They have also labelled me a terrorist for standing up, peacefully, against them.

Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of how tightly Cuba’s totalitarian police state is run would know that it is virtually impossible for hundreds of men to be transported to Russia without the regime noticing it. The ministry’s narrative is also contradicted by online video testimonies of young Cuban men who have traveled to Russia, explaining that their recruitment was overseen by government military officials in Cuba every step of the way.

The Cuban regime’s aggressive public relations campaign to deflect blame for its involvement is conspicuously timed, given the recent success of pro-democracy activists traveling with me to Poland and Ukraine, exposing what we believe are their very own schemes.

But the clincher here is that Ukrainian intelligence services successfully hacked the databases of their Russian adversaries and obtained the complete travel and cross-border entry details for the hundreds of Cubans who went to fight for Russia. A summary of the video has circulated online.

Can there be any further doubt that the regime’s media blitz is just a deflection?

Cuba’s communist regime has hardly hidden its affinity or, more accurately, subordination to Moscow. The Russian government negotiated an agreement with the Belarusian Deputy Defense Minister for International Military Cooperation Valery Revenko to train Cuban troops in that country and to increase military cooperation “in a planned manner.”

In March 2023, Cuba’s regime signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation with General Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council of Russia, for military cooperation at the international and regional levels. The meeting between Raul Castro and Patrushev focused on “threats from the West” and collaboration to counteract “color revolutions” in Cuba and Europe.

In addition, various sources have confirmed the covert military operation carried out by the Havana regime against the Ukrainian people. On May 24, 2023, news outlets in Russia’s Ryazan region reported that “several Cubans” were already fighting in Ukraine after videos of soldiers with Cuban flags were uploaded to social media. On Sept. 5, 2023, a high-ranking Russian military official told The Moscow Times that international battalions on the frontlines in Ukraine were comprised mainly of Cubans and Serbs.

However, evidence has surfaced contradicting the regime’s claims that those citizens had enlisted in the Russian army after they left Cuba. On Aug. 30, 2023, two 19-year-old Cuban citizens currently serving as soldiers in the Russian military recorded a viral video explaining that Cuban and Russian state intermediaries are signing contracts with Cuban citizens on the Island. These citizens are then allowed by the communist regime to travel to Russia to support the military under the guise of “rebuilding cities.” Once there, if they refuse to fight in the war, they are beaten and threatened with imprisonment for 30 years in either Russia or Cuba.

The regime’s naked participation in a war that has resulted in death and destruction not seen in Europe since World War II demonstrates why it is dangerous for democracies to support and aid totalitarian states.

The European Union’s funding of the Havana dictatorship through the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) allows the EU to send about €155 million in financial assistance for 80 development projects in Cuba. Similarly, the Club of Paris carries $8.5 billion in condoned debt for Cuba’s regime and patiently awaits $200 million of postponed payments. Without these funds, which go directly to regime-controlled entities and do not reach the Cuban people, the Cuban dictatorship would crumble.

It is high time Europeans and those nations funding the Club of Paris question where their taxes are going. It makes no sense to sanction and condemn the Russian Federation while subsidizing the criminal dictatorship in Havana, which is providing Russia with military manpower for its ongoing war in Ukraine.

Dr. Orlando Gutierrez Boronat is one of the members of the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, a coalition of human rights groups inside and outside Cuba that is committed to helping Cuba return to democracy. He was born in Havana in 1965.

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