The Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has made a high-profile visit to Cuba, stepping up pressure on Washington at a time when US-Russia relations are at a post-Cold War low. Medvedev is the first Russian leader to travel to Havana since 2001.
He went to an Orthodox church and held talks with Raul Castro, his counterpart on the Communist-run island, Russia’s former Cold War ally. Cuba was Medvedev’s final stop in a tour in which Moscow has been promoting energy, military and trade deals in what is traditionally Washington’s back yard.
And Medvedev made it clear he means business:
“It is not just a study trip by a Russian President with colleagues and journalists,” he said. “It is a serious geopolitical decision. We want to develop relations with Latin America and Caribbean countries.”
Medvedev’s earlier visit to Venezuela produced a string of deals, including Russian help for Caracas to develop nuclear energy for civilian purposes. He toured a visiting Russian warship with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ahead of joint naval exercises by the two countries.