Cuba arrests group recruiting for Moscow’s war in Ukraine

By Janet Post
September 25, 2023

Col. César Rodríguez of Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior announced Sept. 7 the arrest of 17 people who were part of a secret network recruiting young men on the island to join Moscow’s forces in their war on Ukraine.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said it had uncovered the operation Sept. 4.

“The Ministry of the Interior … is working on the neutralization and dismantling of a human trafficking network that operates from Russia to incorporate Cuban citizens living there, and even some from Cuba, into the military forces participating in war operations in Ukraine,” the Foreign Ministry said. “Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine.”

The Cuban Revolution has a long record of support for national self-determination worldwide.

The Foreign Ministry pointed out that “Cuba’s enemies are promoting distorted information that seeks to tarnish the country’s image and present it as an accomplice to these actions that we firmly reject.”

Mouthpieces for the U.S. rulers and their decadeslong economic war against the Cuban Revolution lost no time slandering the country’s government. The Sept. 12 New York Sun claimed “Cuba, Faced With Economic Crisis, ‘Rents’ Soldiers to Russia for Ukraine War.”

“Cuba has a firm and clear historical position against mercenarism,” the country’s Foreign Ministry said, pointing out “it plays an active role in the United Nations in rejection of the aforementioned practice, being the author of several of the initiatives approved in that forum.”

Rodríguez said that recruiters were targeting Cubans interested in military activity, focusing on those “with antisocial behavior and criminal records.”

The Moscow Times reported that a Facebook group, Cubans in Moscow, advertised a one-year contract with the Russian army, offering Russian citizenship to recruits and their families.

News outlets from the Ryazan region in central Russia reported that “several Cubans” have signed contracts to fight, after they were promised a one-time payment of $2,433 from the Russian federal budget, $2,500 from Ryazan’s regional budget and a monthly salary of $2,545.

Two 19-year-old Cubans, Andorf Antonio Velázquez García from Havana, and Alex Rolando Vega Díaz from Santa Clara, told the Miami Herald  they signed up for construction work in Russia and ended up in a military training unit in Ryazan. They were dispatched to a trench in Ukraine, but sent back to Ryazan when they got sick.

“What is happening in Ukraine is ugly. It is hard to see people with their heads open before you, to see how people get killed,” Vega Díaz said.

“From my heart, I tell all Cubans who plan to come here not to come. It is crazy here,” he said.