HAVANA, March 3th Two of Russia’s staunchest allies in Latin America declined to vote against a United Nations resolution on Wednesday condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine,
dealing a diplomatic blow to Russia’s increasingly isolated leader, Vladimir Putin.
Both Cuba, with a decades-long relationship with Moscow, and Nicaragua, whose authoritarian leader has expressed support for the invasion, abstained from the vote condemning Russia’s actions. The U.N. General Assembly resolution, which condemns the ongoing assault, was supported by 141 nations.
Only Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and Syria voted against the measure. Cuba joined China, Iraq, Iran, India and Pakistan, among others, in abstaining from the vote. Venezuela did not vote, having lost its right to cast U.N. votes due to unpaid dues.
Russia’s attack against Ukraine that began last week with a multi-pronged assault on the nation’s largest cities has escalated in recent days, with Russian forces firing artillery at the heart of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.
Amid the crisis, Russia increased diplomatic efforts to ensure it had the support of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Several Russian officials traveled to the three countries, and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with the three leaders.
As Russian forces were targeting civilians in Ukrainian cities on Tuesday, Putin and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro discussed increasing the “strategic partnership” between the two countries. But close allies like Cuba are cautiously assessing the risks and benefits of throwing their full support behind the Russian invasion.
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the Cuban government has been walking a fine line in its public statements, avoiding condemnation of Russia but also staying away from a full endorsement, wary of damaging its relationship with valuable European trading partners.
Yet Cuban authorities have made clear they support Russia’s “right to defend” itself and have blamed the U.S. for the conflict. Cuban state media have also joined the Russian RT television network and Venezuelan-led channel Telesur in a propaganda campaign to justify the invasion.
Ukraine formally protested Cuba’s support for Russia over the weekend, and the Ukrainian Embassy has said it has received numerous messages of solidarity from Cubans on the island. Cuba’s representative to the United Nations, Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta, said the General Assembly resolution on Wednesday “does not take into account the legitimate concerns of all the parties involved.
Nor is the responsibility of those who instigated or deployed aggressive actions that precipitated the escalation of this conflict recognized,” he added in reference to the U.S.