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Russia resurrects relations with Cuba wiping billions off Havana debt

Russia resurrects relations with Cuba wiping billions off Havana debt
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The Russian destroyer Admiral Chabanenko received a warm welcome when it entered Havana in December 2008.

The ship became the first Russian naval vessel to visit Cuba since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Cuba, the Soviet Union and the United States shared and volatile past.

In October 1962 the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.

For 13-days the Cold War simmered and mutually assured destruction was discussed and documented.

In response to Washington deploying missile batteries in Turkey and Italy, and a failed US attempt overthrow the Cuban regime. The Kremlin decided to install nuclear missiles in Cuba, Fidel Castro agreed, cranking up the tension to unbearable levels.

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev finally opted for a peace pact on October 28, 1962 and the world breathed a sigh of relief.

For years, Cuba, subjected to a US embargo, survived thanks to Soviet goods and hardware prompting a healthy trade between the allies.

At one point business worth $9bn a year passed between the pair.

It all ended abruptly as the Soviet Empire fragmented and collapsed.

Now Russia, in search of allies and influence in the area, has announced it will wipe €23.3bn off the debt Cuba owes to Moscow.

Havana must pay €2.6bn over 10 years, which Russia says it will invest directly back into the ailing Cuban economy.

The deepwater port of Mariel is one project Russia plans to invest in and when complete will attract shipping and foreign business into Cuba.

Agreements are being drawn up to allow Russian warships to dock and undergo repairs in Havana.

In February the Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov arrived in Havana.

Russia is seeking similar docking rights with Venezuela and Nicaragua.