Cuba’s communist Castro regime sent up to 14,000 Cuban nationals to fight for Russia in Ukraine between July and August, according to a joint report. published Monday by Madrid Cuba Siglo 21 think tank and the Havana Consulting Group.
“All evidence points to a collaborative and concerted effort between the Russian and Cuban governments to organize a recruitment network for Cuban volunteers to join Russian troops in Ukraine” Cuba Siglo 21 declared on its website.
The organizations reached this conclusion by analyzing data from 117 flights between Russia and Cuba documented between July and August, at a rate of 13 flights per week.
According to the report, the flights represented an available seat capacity of 52,497, of which 38,407 were occupied by Russian tourists traveling to the island, or 73.16 percent of the available seat capacity.
The analysis concludes that the remaining 26.84 percent of seats may have provided the Castro regime with the operational capacity to transfer up to 14,090 citizens to Russian territory between July and August. Russia is one of the few countries in the world where Cuban citizens do not need to obtain a visitor visa to enter.
THE Cuba Siglo 21 The report concluded, given the totalitarian nature of the Cuban government, that it would be impossible for Cuban nationals to leave or enter the country through any of its airports without being detected – a sign that any Cuban traveling to Russia for alleged military purposes could not do so. and this without the approval of the Castro regime.
Reports of Cuban citizens fighting for Russia in Ukraine for the first time surfaced in May, when the Florida-based Martí Noticias news agency reported that at least 14 Cuban nationals had signed contracts to provide military services to the Russian armed forces in exchange for a fast track to Russian citizenship, among other advantages.
At the end of August, two young men claiming to be 19-year-old Cuban citizens stuck in Russia denounced in a video published in the Cuban diaspora media that they had been “tricked” into fighting Ukraine. The men said they responded to a Facebook ad for blue-collar jobs in Ukraine and were explicitly told they would not see the front lines of the war under any circumstances – only to then be forced to follow military training.
After their video went viral in Spanish-speaking media, the Castro regime announcement last week, he reportedly worked to “neutralize and dismantle” a human trafficking network that recruits Cuban citizens to fight alongside Russia in Ukraine. The communist Ministry of Foreign Relations claimed that the network included Cuban citizens living in Russia “and even some from Cuba.” The Castro regime claims to have until now stopped 17 people involved in the alleged trafficking network.
The report released Monday suggests that the Castro regime was aware of the trafficking but distanced itself after the fact for geopolitical reasons.
The report also suggests that it is possible that the trafficking network, now allegedly dismantled, was constructed by the Castro regime as a “smokescreen” and not as the source of Cuba’s main military contribution to Russia, which, according to the think tank. , would give the Castro regime the possibility of concealing subsequent shipments of Cubans to Russia.
Cuba Siglo 21 stated on its website:
Official Cuban statements claiming to have detected and dismantled this “private network” could now allow Havana to assert that all Cubans identified as fighting in Ukraine were among those who had previously been privately recruited on Cuban or Russian territory , behind the back of the Cuban government. and who went there before dismantling the island’s network.
“If that is the case – as Cuba Siglo 21 According to analysts, Havana’s main objective in helping this private network and then distancing itself from it was to construct a smokescreen, a straw man, to hide the subsequent dispatch of regular forces to Ukraine,” the statement continued. . “And such an operation would have been carried out in full agreement with Putin.”
This ploy apparently worked with at least one target: the European Union, one of the main allies of the Castro regime. main financial, who announcement On Monday, he accepted and “welcomed” the Castro regime’s efforts to dismantle the alleged human trafficking network.
Last week, the volunteer information site InformNapalm published a complete list of the full names, dates of birth and passport details of 199 people – all of whom are believed to be Cuban citizens, except for one Colombian citizen – who were allegedly conscripted to fight for Russia in Ukraine. The list was allegedly provided by a group of Ukrainian hackers known as “Cyber-Resistance”, which claimed to have obtained it by hacking into the personal email address of Russian Major Antón Valentinovich Perevozchikov, the Russian officer allegedly in charge of the recruitment of Cuban citizens. in the Russian city of Tula.
The Castro regime, a long-time ally of Russia, has openly expressed support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Cuban Minister of Foreign Relations, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla claims Last year at the United Nations, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “necessary” in response to the existence of NATO, although Ukraine is not a NATO member state.
While the Castro regime has openly sided with Russia, Ukraine continues to maintain diplomatic relations with the communists, allowing the Castro regime to maintain its embassy in kyiv. Unlike the Castro regime, Cuban citizens – living in Cuba and in exile – enthusiastically supported the Ukrainian cause, without any reciprocal support from Ukraine to free themselves from the Putin-funded Cuban regime.
In March 2022, Cuban state security forces reportedly stopped Self-proclaimed Christian activist Pablo Enrique Delgado Hernández for attempting to leave a bouquet of flowers at the Ukrainian embassy in Havana. The Cuban Resistance Assembly, a coalition of pro-democracy groups on and off the island, detained a pro-Ukraine rally in Miami that same month.
Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat, co-founder of the group, journey in kyiv in August, it was the first time that a delegation of Cuban freedom defenders visited Ukraine to support the country.
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer who documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.