File photo of Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez during a press conference at the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Havana, Cuba, Oct. 19, 2022. EFE/Ernesto Mastrascusa

Cuba says it rejects the participation of its nationals in the war in Ukraine

Havana, Sept. 14 (EFE) – Cuba said Thursday that it rejects the participation of its nationals in the Russian side in the war in Ukraine, hours after the island’s ambassador in Moscow said the opposite to Russian media.

The island’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez, stressed that the ” unequivocal and unchangeable position of the Cuban government” is “against the participation of Cuban citizens in any conflict,” in a message posted on X (formerly Twitter).

The foreign minister also stressed that this includes “mercenarism” and “human trafficking.

Rodriguez’s message came hours after Cuba’s ambassador to Russia, Julio Antonio Garmendia, said his country was not opposed to the legal participation of its citizens in the war in Ukraine, as long as they were in the ranks of the Russian army.

“We have nothing against Cubans who simply want to sign a contract and participate legally with the Russian army in this operation,” he told the official RIA Novosti agency.

Recently, the Russian authorities had dismantled a network that was recruiting Cubans to fight in Ukraine, resulting in the arrest of 17 people.

In this regard, Ileana Núñez, director for Europe and Canada at the Foreign Ministry’s Directorate for Bilateral Affairs, stated that the island “is not part of the military conflict in Ukraine” and that it is currently working with the Russian authorities to neutralize “attempts of this nature”.

The Cuban government and official media have largely echoed Moscow’s rhetoric when referring to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a traditional political ally and important trade partner of the island.

At the United Nations, Cuba has voted against resolutions sponsored by Ukraine and its allies, but has also opted to abstain on several occasions rather than explicitly support the Kremlin’s positions.

In recent months, Russian authorities have enticed numerous foreigners to sign professional contracts in the Russian army in exchange for the promise of citizenship within a year after six months of service. EFE