Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has praised Moscow for its support in an increasingly bitter standoff between Havana and Washington during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin outside Moscow.
"U.S. aggression against Cuba is escalating," Diaz-Canel said as he met Putin at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence on October 29, according to remarks translated by the Kremlin.
The Russian president told the Cuban leader that "Russia has always had a special affinity for Cuba’s independent stance, its sovereign policy. We are glad that Cuba’s statehood continues to strengthen."
Cuba was closely aligned with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, with Moscow providing billions of dollars in aid and subsidies to boost the government of Communist leader Fidel Castro, who died in 2016 aged 90.
Support was slashed after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but ties have improved between the two countries after U.S. President Donald Trump reversed predecessor Barack Obama’s efforts to ease long-standing U.S. restrictions on Havana.
Washington has assailed Havana for its alleged human rights violations and criticized Moscow for its support of the Communist government.
During his meeting with Putin, Diaz-Canel told Putin that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Cuba earlier this month "taught the world a lesson that Russia's and Cuba's positions remain unchanged under U.S. threats."
Diaz-Canel invited the Russian president to visit the Caribbean island nation. Putin said he would "take advantage of" the invitation, but no dates were set.
Diaz-Canel began his three-day visit to Russia on October 28 in St. Petersburg, meeting with local officials, touring the Hermitage gallery, and visiting the cemetery dedicated to the victims of the Leningrad blockade during World War II.
The 59-year-old Diaz-Canel was chosen by the Cuban parliament in April 2018 to succeed Fidel Castro's brother, Raul, as president, bringing the Castro family's decades-long rule to an end.
The 88-year-old Castro remains an influential figure and is leader of Cuba's Communist Party,
Cuban Leader Hails Russian Support During Meeting With Putin