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Viewing cable 09MOSCOW1732,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MOSCOW1732 2009-07-02 05:05 2011-02-06 00:12 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Moscow
VZCZCXRO4507
RR RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHMT RUEHNG
RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHMO #1732/01 1830500
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 020500Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4117
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0032
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001732 

NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/29/2034 TAGS: PINR PREL PGOV CU RS

1. (S/NF) Summary: GOR officials and outside experts told us the Cuba-Russia relationship had not significantly changed since Raul Castro became president, but that Cuba-Russia ties are strengthening. Russia does not think it is harder or easier to work with Raul Castro than it was with Fidel Castro. MFA officials declined to prioritize the bilateral relationships with Cuba and Venezuela. GOR officials told us there were no plans to establish military bases in Cuba and that Russia was unlikely to deploy any long-range aviation assets to Cuba. End summary. 
-------------------------------------- 
No Strong Preference for Raul or Fidel 
-------------------------------------- 

2. (S/NF) The MFA's Cuba desk told us June 23, and outside experts subsequently confirmed, that Russia did not have a preference for working with Raul or Fidel Castro. As a general trend, the MFA said that Cuba-Russia ties were becoming stronger, but that the relationship had not changed significantly since Raul Castro came to power in 2008. 

3. (S/NF) Vladimir Davydov, Director of the Latin American Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that Russia perceived a difference between the two Castro brothers in how they viewed the Cuba-Russia relationship. Davydov told us that Raul spent more time in the Soviet Union and Russia than Fidel and understood Russia better. Russia believed Raul to be the more pragmatic brother, according to Davydov, and that he did more to encourage outside investment in Cuba from a number of sources, including Russia. The MFA confirmed that Russia and Cuba were looking for mutually beneficial investment opportunities in Cuba. 

--------------------------------------- 
Russian Priorities: Cuba or Venezuela?
 --------------------------------------- 

4. (S/NF) Both MFA officials and outside experts declined to prioritize Russia's relations with Cuba and Venezuela. Russia has a longer history of working with Cuba than with Venezuela, but this relationship suffered after the end of the Cold War. In addition, Russia has recently sought closer ties with the Chavez regime. XXXXXXXXXXXXX, an expert on Latin America-Russia relations, said Russia's main intention in improving ties with Cuba and Venezuela was not to aggravate the U.S., rather to gain access to new markets in the region. 

5. (S/NF) Leaders of Cuba and Venezuela have participated in high-profile visits with Russia officials, including President Medvedev. Palacio said that Russia's primary purpose from these engagements was access to the Cuban and Venezuelan markets. Russian MFA officials emphasized that there was currently no ideological component to either the Cuba-Russia or the Venezuela-Russia relationship, stating that the main basis of both relationships was economic. 

6. (S/NF) Russia's bilateral trade with Venezuela totals more than USD 700 million, while trade with Cuba totals about USD 280 million. Davydov told us that Russia's most important partner in Latin America was Brazil, which has the largest economy in the region. Russian-Brazilian bilateral trade totaled more than USD 5 billion in 2007. 

----------------------------------- 
Russian Military Operations in Cuba 
----------------------------------- 

7. (S/NF) GOR officials told us there were no plans to establish military bases in Cuba. They added that the GOR was unlikely to deploy any long-range aviation assets to Cuba. Russia's military relationship with Cuba would most likely be limited to upgrading Soviet-era equipment. The MFA's Cuba desk and Latin America experts here told us that Russia was looking for very little militarily from Cuba, emphasizing that the main basis of their bilateral 

MOSCOW 00001732 002.3 OF 002 

relationship was economic.

 ---------------------------- 
Working with Cuban Officials 
----------------------------

8. (S/NF) When asked about their working relationship with their Cuban counterparts, GOR officials declined to comment. BEYRLE