The Moscow Times reported that a social media account under the name of Elena Shuvalova had for months been posting ads in a Facebook group called “Cubans in Moscow” offering a one-year contract with the Russian Army. On Tuesday, the group had nearly 76,000 members. The statement from the Cuban Foreign Ministry did not mention the group.
Cuba has been a close ally of Russia since the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Álvaro López Miera, the head of Cuba’s Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, visited Moscow in June. He was received by his Russian counterpart, Sergei K. Shoigu, who said that Cuba was Russia’s “most important ally” in the Caribbean.
“Our Cuban friends confirmed their attitude toward our country, including demonstrating a full understanding of the reasons for the start of a special military operation in Ukraine,” Mr. Shoigu said at the time, according to reports from Tass, a Russian state media agency. There are direct flights between the countries, which have a mutual visa-free regime for 90 days out of 180. About 70,000 Russian tourists visited Cuba in the first half of 2023, according to Russian state media, and about 11,000 Cubans visited Russia in 2022, according to the Russian Association of Tour Operators.
It is not the first time that a country has claimed that its citizens were being recruited to fight for Russia in Ukraine. In late June, a prosecutor’s office in the Kostanay region of north Kazakhstan issued a statement saying that advertisements attempting to recruit people to “participate in the armed conflict in Ukraine” had been appearing on social media and elsewhere online.
The statement said that mercenary activities were prohibited by the Kazakh Constitution, and that serving in military operations in a foreign country was a criminal offense.