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IN BRIEF: Lavrov in Havana blasts Western pressure, touts stronger ties with Cuba

The Russian foreign minister noted that the countries need to work together to rally the global majority to stand up for Havana's rights

HAVANA, February 20. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has traveled to Havana and, following talks with his counterpart Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, praised strengthening economic relations with Cuba, but said coordinating foreign policy was equally important. Havana has experienced "illegal pressure" from the outside, so the countries need to work together to rally the global majority to stand up for its rights, Lavrov said.

TASS has put together the highlights from the minister’s statements.

Trade with Cuba

The legal framework for trade and economic cooperation between Russia and Cuba has been "significantly strengthened and supplemented" recently, including the creation of conditions for Russian investors to invest more actively in Cuban economy.

Russia continues to export fuel to Cuba.

"We are, of course, seriously engaged in this work," Lavrov said.

Two special loans have been granted to Havana this year. One has already been issued, and the other has been formalized for the deliveries to carry on.

Russia and Cuba intend to hold a meeting of a bilateral intergovernmental commission in the next two to three months. Also, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla will pay a visit to Russia this year.

Russian payment cards, flights

Cards of the Russian payment system Mir are very useful for the development of tourism in Cuba and all other bilateral ties.

Russia is ready to boost the number of flights to Cuba if tourists show demand.


Havana is interested in expanding ties with BRICS.

"Russia, as the country presiding over this group this year, will support this sentiment," Lavrov said.

Moscow expects that other members of the organization will also welcome Cuba's application for a partnership status at BRICS.

Western pressure

It has been a long time since Moscow stopped being surprised that what the EU cares about is not the good of its member countries, but "keeping up with the US" in applying pressure on Russia. Recently, the US has been "ceding leadership to the EU in this Russophobic campaign."

"Let history put things in perspective, and let the people of the countries that make up the European Union draw their own conclusions about who they brought to power," Lavrov said.

Havana has experienced "illegal pressure" from the outside. Moscow has consistently condemned the US trade, economic and financial embargo against Cuba and called for excluding that country from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

"The absurdity of this situation is obvious to everyone except, perhaps, those who run the show in Washington," Lavrov said.


Russia has not reacted to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's criticism of Israel, but Moscow respects opinions expressed by the leaders of any country.

"We see thousands of innocent people suffering" in the Gaza Strip, Lavrov said.

More civilians have been killed in Israel’s operation in Gaza than in Ukraine since the 2014 coup.

"These are not just abstract numbers," Lavrov said.

Moscow wants to help the Israeli and Palestinians.

"We see no other option but for them to engage in direct dialogue," Lavrov said.

He called for an immediate ceasefire, a solution to the humanitarian problems in the Gaza Strip, and said that after "these urgent steps are taken," one should deal with the implementation of the UN decision to establish a Palestinian state.