File photo of Russian Ambassador to Cuba Viktor Koronelli during a press conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 7 2018. EFE/David Fernández

Moscow is “in contact” with Havana over Cubans recruited to fight in Ukraine

Havana, Sept 27 (EFE).- Russian Ambassador to Cuba Viktor Koronelli said Wednesday to reporters that Moscow and Havana are “in contact” and “working” to resolve the issue of Cubans recruited to fight in the Russian army.

Koronelli made the comments to international media on the sidelines of an event held in Havana to thank the Russian government and the World Food Program for a donation of 650 tons of vegetable oil to Cuba.

“The relevant agencies are working, they are in contact with both the Russian and Cuban sides,” said the diplomat, who admitted that his embassy was aware that Cuban citizens had gone to Russia “to prepare themselves militarily,” but that he did not know the specific numbers.

Two weeks ago, the Cuban government announced that it had dismantled an alleged network recruiting Cubans to fight in Ukraine after several news media reported that mercenaries from the country were fighting on the Russian side of the war.

Ukrainian hackers leaked images, allegedly taken from the email of a Russian military officer, of nearly 200 passports of Cubans allegedly serving as mercenaries for Russia.

Following these incidents, the Cuban Foreign Ministry strongly rejected any form of participation by its citizens in the invasion of Ukraine, stressing that mercenarism is a crime in its country.

The Cuban government has habitually used Kremlin rhetoric to refer to the invasion of Ukraine, but has chosen to abstain from most votes on Ukraine at the United Nations.

Cuba and Russia have been close political allies for decades, following closer ties during the Cold War (1945-1991). Bilateral relations have received a boost in recent months, particularly with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel’s visit to Moscow.EFE