Cuba plays the Russian card, again
Cuban dictator Raul Castro has been making public and private overtures to American adversaries over the last several weeks, particularly Russia, at the same time the U.S. was investigating how U.S. officials stationed in Cuba mysteriously fell ill.With the collapse of Venezuela, Cuba is looking for another sugar daddy to subsidize its incompetence. The Russians may be their best bet, but Moscow has its own economic problems now because of sanctions and the drop in the price of oil. As much as Putin might like to mess with the US, there are limits on what it can spend to subsidized a failed communist regime.
The combined events could point to a backsliding in U.S.-Cuba relations that former President Barack Obama worked to hard to put on a more productive path in the last few months of his administration.
Some Republicans already see the harm done to American officials in Havana — reportedly a "sonic attack" that caused hearing loss — as a basis for walking away from Obama's plan. But the meetings with Russia could also soften support for normalization among Democrats, who have a renewed sense of the threat posed by Russia in light of the 2016 election interference.
Cuba has been quietly reaching out to Russia over the last few weeks. Castro's team has huddled twice with senior Russian officials since the last week of July.
Specifically, Castro's foreign ministry sent the "head of the United States division," Josefina Vidal, to Moscow for a meeting with deputy foreign minister Sergey Ryabkov in late July, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced. Ryabkov then met with the Cuban ambassador to Russia on Wednesday.