Russia donates 25,000 tonnes of wheat to Cuba

Russia donates 25,000 tonnes of wheat to Cuba

HAVANA, Feb 15  Russia on Wednesday gave Cuba an “emergency” donation of 25,000 tons of wheat to combat shortages on the island, a sign of deepening ties between the two long-time allies.The Russian ambassador in Havana, Andrei Guskov, said in a brief dockside ceremony in the Cuban capital that Moscow “accompanies Cuba’s efforts in its development in areas such as industry, machinery, transportation, and energy.”

The substantial donation of wheat – used to make the bread that is a basic, government-subsidized staple in Cuba – marks the latest overture between the communist-run island and Russia.

Russia, hit by Western sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine, is looking to strengthen political and economic ties with other countries opposed to what it calls U.S. hegemony. Cuba has been under a U.S. economic embargo since 1962 after the Communist revolution led by Castro.

Ana Teresita González, Cuban deputy minister of foreign trade, told Reuters on the sidelines of the ceremony that the Russians had provided Cuba with food and medicine recently, part of an “enduring relationship” between the two countries.

“The Russian government and people have been by our side in difficult times since the pandemic,” she said in a brief interview.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel in November unveiled a monument in Moscow to Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, pledging to deepen their friendship in the face of U.S. sanctions against both countries.

Days before invading Ukraine, Russia had also agreed to postpone debt payments owed by Cuba until 2027.

Cuban state-run media said in December the grain deliveries were part of 800 million rubles ($10.8 mln) earmarked by Russia to purchase and deliver wheat to Cuba.

Russia in April shipped 20,000 tonnes of wheat to Cuba as prices globally spiked early in the Ukraine conflict, prompting bread shortages on the island.