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History As It Happens

Aug 1, 2023

On today's geopolitical chessboard, most eyes are watching Eastern Europe or the Indo-Pacific. Somewhat unnoticed is what's happening in Cuba. Russia has turned to an old ally for help in its “clash with the West.” Beginning early this year, high-level Russian officials began visiting Cuba to deepen economic, military, and diplomatic ties with the Communist island. In this episode, historian Jeremi Suri discusses why Russia intends to use Cuba as a counter-balance to U.S. support for Ukraine, drawing parallels to the Cold War relationship between Cuba and the Soviet Union. As they did in the early 1960s, both nations today see an interest in cooperating against the U.S. But unlike the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, today’s Russian military assistance to Cuba should not be viewed as an existential threat but rather as a realpolitik ploy to antagonize Washington, Suri says.