Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in mid-January (2022) that Russia could send military units to cuba and venezuela, countering U.S. support for Ukraine. What could deter Russia’s deployment in the Caribbean? What can produce greater international security? What can be learned from the history of international security relations in the Caribbean?
During the Cold War, the United States (USA) and the Soviet Union (USSR) were the only countries that negotiated a complex and delicate security regime around Cuba. In addition to these negotiations, Cuba and the United States entered into a number of bilateral agreements, which became more frequent after the disappearance of the Soviet Union.Russia’s military relocation in the Caribbean, already underway, reconsiders this issue and russia invades ukraine Return to attention.
Unlike in the past where there were only bilateral solutions, either between the US and the USSR, or between the US and Cuba, the new Russian approach requires a tripartite approach as it requires the consent of Cuba as the distance between the two is greater Cuba and Russia. More than he spent between Cuba and the USSR.
Since President Raúl Castro’s visit to Moscow in 2009, Cuba and Russia have strengthened political, military and economic ties and forged new close ties. For this reason, Cuba has lashed out at the US and NATO for creating the crisis in Ukraine.
However, Cuba neither supports the Russian invasion nor recognizes the two so-called «People’s Republics» of Donetsk and Lugansk. Likewise, he abstained from voting in the UN General Assembly to condemn the invasion, rather than side with Russia. It disagrees with Russia’s claim that great powers can do and undo in their backyard, looking back at their own relationship with the US. Cuban state media published some news reports from Ukraine, but more from Russia.
There are also emotional ties between Ukraine and Cuba. The devastation caused by the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 led to Cuba receiving more than 24,000 Ukrainian children diagnosed with cancer and providing them with effective free medical care for more than two decades. This experience between Cuba and an independent Ukraine produced connections that remain to this day.
So let’s examine the new international insecurity context created in the Caribbean, which is more diverse than ever. What is happening, what has happened, and what can change?
The military deployment to Cuba is nothing new. The Soviet Union began providing military resources to Cuba in 1960. It sent nuclear warheads, ballistic missiles and thousands of troops to Cuba in 1962, where it remained until the end of the Cold War.
Russian military deployments are not new either. That’s why US Southern Command is monitoring Russian naval deployments to the Caribbean. The last one was held in Havana in 2019. Cuba relies on Russia for spare parts for its armed forces equipment. Since 2016, Russia’s military agreement with Cuba has been aimed at exactly this. In 2022, a Russian telescope began operating in Cuba along with its satellites, including those dedicated to military intelligence.
What does the trilateral security mechanism include?
The system would imply a framework of understanding between international adversaries, increasing each side’s security by incorporating practical rules that limit the scope of conflict. It also requires direct consultations between them.
Cuba had a Soviet-American security regime. Thanks to him, at the end of the 1962 crisis, the United States and the Soviet Union came to the following understanding:
- The Soviet Union withdrew its missiles and nuclear warheads from Cuba, and the United States withdrew Turkey’s Jupiter missiles.
- The Soviet Union allowed the United States to verify the withdrawal of its weapons. However, Soviet troops would remain in Cuba, and the island could be visited by a non-nuclear Soviet navy.
- U.S. promises not to invade Cuba if Havana government allows inspections on site. Cuba refused, which is why the commitment expired.
- Only the United States and the Soviet Union negotiated, and the United States refused to negotiate directly with Cuba.
National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger wrote in his memoirs that in 1970, following a request from the Soviet Union, he reiterated that understanding «prohibited the deployment on Cuban soil of offensive weapons of any kind or of any Missiles. In exchange, we reiterated that we would not use armed force to alter the organization of the Cuban government.” Kissinger was aware of the inspection requirements on sitewas excluded at the time, which is why the security regime came into effect.
Also in 1970, the United States opposed the construction of a new facility for the Soviet Navy at the port of Cienfuegos. The Soviet Union claimed that «a combat-ready ballistic missile submarine would never visit» the island, and that it neither had nor planned to establish a naval base there.
In 1975, Cuba finally accepted the outcome of the 1962 crisis, abandoning demands previously rejected by the United States. Subsequently, the United States discovered the presence of a remnant Soviet brigade in Cuba. Cuba and the Soviet Union reiterated their understanding that there would be no future introduction of Soviet fighter planes, nor would the brigade be converted into a combat unit.
In summary, these modifications incorporate the rules of the security mechanism:
- each part
- Stop doing things that the other person finds offensive,
- making non-reciprocal unilateral concessions,
- He was careful not to humiliate the other party.
- Precedents are mandatory; revision begins with them.
- Only the Soviet Union and the United States negotiated.
The Russian situation in Cuba after 1990. During the first decade, first the Soviet Union and then Russia continued to strengthen the security regime. In 1991, the Soviet Union withdrew its troops from Cuba. In 2000, when Vladimir Putin was prime minister, Russia and Cuba shut down Juraguá’s only unfinished nuclear power plant. In 2002, with Putin already in office, Russia shut down the Lourdes listening and intelligence facility near Havana.
international moderation in cuba After 1990With no Soviet allies, Cuba used diplomacy to persuade Washington and other governments to exercise restraint in international affairs in the face of a stubbornly hostile United States. This is how he withdrew his troops from countries on three continents including Angola, Ethiopia, and Nicaragua. It also interrupted traditional support for different insurgencies and worked with the settlement of civil wars in El Salvador, Guatemala and Colombia. In doing so, it added a multilateral dimension to its new strategy.
During the Cold War, Cuba refused to join multilateral treaties on nuclear weapons, but in 2002 it ratified the Treaty of Tlatelolco to ban the use of nuclear weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean and prevent nuclear proliferation. In 2018, it ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and in 2021 the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. It has a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).That’s why checking on site in each of the past five years.
Ancient American relations. In order to solve bilateral practical problems, Cuba and the United States have gradually established a bilateral security system, including specific agreements. These began with the Immigration Agreement of 1965 and the Air Piracy Agreement of 1973. In the late 1980s, negotiations successfully ended the war in Africa’s Southern Cone.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and despite continued U.S. sanctions against Cuba, in the 1990s the two militaries developed professional relationships and cooperation around the U.S. naval base near the city of Guantanamo and between the Coast Guard. In this way, bilateral cooperation is developed in the prevention of illegal immigration and drug trafficking and drug traffickers.
In 2016, the two governments agreed to cooperate on travel security and civil aviation, combating drug trafficking, facilitating coast guard operations, demarcating maritime boundaries and immigration regulation. Thus, while the United States captures and deports undocumented immigrants, Cuba accepts them.
The official 2021 U.S. Drug Trafficking Report states: «Cuba’s intensive security presence and interdiction efforts have reduced the supply of illicit drugs and prevented traffickers from gaining a foothold in Cuba… Traffickers in the region typically avoid Cuba.
Will there finally be a trilateral security mechanism in 2022?
Putin has threatened to deploy nuclear-armed Russian submarines off the east coast of the United States. While these can be rested and repaired in Cuba, the old security regime prohibits this. As a result, no Russian submarine has visited Cuba so far this century.
The full effectiveness of this security regime requires unilateral and non-reciprocal concessions to stop doing what the adversary opposes. But that has not been reiterated since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Its ratification will seek the same thing: international stability.In fact, it just reiterates status quo. Russia and Cuba did not do what the regime forbids. While both parties have pledged not to take actions against which the United States opposes; he will see the situation for what it is.
For Russia, the incentive would be to recognize its right to influence the Caribbean — a limited right not to act in ways the United States objects to. For Cuba, this means participating for the first time in the design of a trilateral mechanism that both protects and constrains it. For the U.S., that means blocking the kinds of actions Moscow has hinted at. The price for the United States is the recognition of Russia’s presence in the international Caribbean and the recognition of Cuba as an effective interlocutor—as long as Russia and Cuba do not promote military deployments that the United States opposes.
This security regime helps to consolidate common interests. Its revival will mean costs to all three governments, but it will also promise the stability they each value.
IMAGE: Miguel Diaz-Canel (Cuban President) and Vladimir Putin (Russian President) at a news conference after the Russia-Cuba talks in 2018. Photo: Kremlin.ru (CC BY 4.0).