05:03 GMT +317 October 2018
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    Historical Cuba

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    MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev)

    Cuban Ambassador to Russia Juan Valdes Figueroa told RIA Novosti that Raul Castro's visit to Moscow on Wednesday will be of historic significance.

    From a protocol standpoint, this is absolutely correct. This is the first official visit of a Cuban leader since the Soviet Union's disintegration. Raul Castro is the successor to his retired brother Fidel Castro.

    However, this historic significance may be interpreted in different ways. Havana and Moscow have finally restored their cooperation after the almost complete collapse of relations in the early 1990s. This cooperation is growing, and during his visit Raul Castro will sign a number of documents to this effect.

    But an even greater significance may be the context of the times we find ourselves in now. We are possibly living in an era of global restructuring. The United States may change its policy. Normalizing relations with Cuba may prove an easy and moral thing to do. It could benefit both sides. This prospect is a subject for a serious conversation between Castro and Dmitry Medvedev. Suppose, Russia tells Cuba: Don't make friends with the United States; Cuba and Russia are doing well without it. But this sounds ridiculous.

    Looking at Cuba in the context of Russia's new Latin American policy, we will recall that this policy gives rise to many questions. Why does Russia send its warships on a friendly visit to Venezuela? Maybe, we made a breakthrough in our relations with Havana because Cuba is a historic Latin country, a symbol and a pioneer of independent policy in Latin America.

    The convoy of warships to Venezuelan shores may be interpreted as a demonstration for George W. Bush (but not Barack Obama) as to what Moscow could do if the United States continues its unfriendly policies. It is enough to recall Georgia, Ukraine, or missile defense in Europe.

    But this begs the question: what if Obama gives up this policy that obviously runs counter to U.S. interests? Will Russia stop cooperating with Venezuela and Cuba?

    In reality, Moscow's new policy in Latin America is rooted in the 1990s when Russian businessmen found that it is possible to deal with Latin Americans, and that they want to cooperate with Russians. Russia has long developed trade and military relations with the entire continent regardless of the extent of anti-American attitudes toward specific countries.

    If Obama is smarter than Bush, he will normalize relations not only with Cuba but also with Venezuela and Iran, although the presidents of the latter two countries have already expressed skepticism about this possibility. It is possible to imagine that while Washington is preparing for this, Russia and many others will use the delay to conclude new economic agreements with countries that will gain validity in the new era. But a policy based on the use of mistakes or delays would be weak. And what if there are no mistakes? And what if the United States turns out to be a partner, albeit a difficult one, in the new world?

    The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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