Almost like during the cold war

Only in a few places of Cuba luster of the past felt as good as in the Capitol in the heart of Havana. Although a magnificent building of marble looks like a copy of the Capitol in Washington, it — and many Cubans are very proud of your above Washington sample of a few meters. However, around this symbol of the city there is decadence. The once colorful facades of the houses faded, the plaster is falling off and walls sticking out of rusty metal beams. Many parts of Havana are decrepit. As the Capitol dome, he is also dilapidated and in urgent need of rehabilitation.

The Russian government wants the dome to be restored. State construction firm has already prepared plans to luxurious building soon once again Shine in the Caribbean sun. The Kremlin’s activity in the Capitol indicates a more serious phenomenon: in recent years, Moscow has increasingly supports its old ally is still from the Soviet era. Just last week, Cuba turned to Russia with a request for support in the modernization of the defense industry. According to Cuban media, the Russian state enterprise Rosoboronexport is ready to take part in it.

“In recent years, one can state the intensification of relations between Russia and Cuba,” — said Alexander Sitenko, which deals with the study of Russian-Cuban relations at the University of Leipzig. In Washington and in Havana a look at it with concern. Well-known Cuban journalist Yoani Sanchez (Yoani Sanchez) sees the strengthening of Russian activity in Cuba danger. In an article for the Spanish newspaper El País, she writes: “In Latin America is reviving the cold war”. While President of the United States Donald trump is not particularly interested in Cuba and the entire region, Russia has more and more influence.

Also in the United States, some seriously concerned about the developments in the neighbouring island. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (Patrick Leahy) fears that the new partnership between Cuba and Russia may have “serious consequences for U.S. national security”.

It also warns about the and the American Security Project, a non-governmental organization that was founded by the former us Secretary of state John Kerry (John Kerry) and former Secretary of defense Chuck Hagel (Chuck Hagel). In a letter to the U.S. government in April, they said that trump has the right to block a policy of rapprochement with the island of Castro. Otherwise, in close proximity to the U.S. may be “economic and geopolitical vacuum”, which could fill the Russian.

Despite these doubts, the President of the United States Donald trump stopped in June of rapprochement with Cuba, which can make this Caribbean island is more attractive for the government in Moscow. “Always there, where America is weak, the Russians are coming,” says Stefan Meister (Stefan Meister), a Russia expert at the German society for foreign policy (DGAP).

During the cold war, Cuba and Russia were close allies. The Soviet Union massively supported until its collapse this Communist partner in the supply of oil and financial investments. In 1990-e years, the Kremlin has cut contacts with Cuba. “Meanwhile, Russia realized that it was a mistake”, — says Alexander Sitenko from Leipzig University.

Putin is making Russia great again — greater than it is

Over the past two years, both governments agreed to several dozen joint projects. According to these projects, Russian companies have, among other things, to invest in Cuba in the amount of four billion dollars. Now Russian companies upgrade the railway infrastructure of the country and provide lot of money for a variety of projects for research and development. In 2014, Putin even blamed the country 90% of the debt from the Soviet era. May Russian for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union put Cuba again on a large amount of oil after Venezuela cut its shipments by 40%.

Can the economically weak Cuba is all afford or Moscow, as in the days of the Soviet Union, much subventral this island is unclear. There are many signs that the Kremlin gives the Castro regime a very profitable loans.

“For its part, Cuba sells Russian influence,” says Mervyn Bain (Bain Mervyn), an expert on Russian-Cuban relations in the Scottish University of Aberdeen. For the Russian President is a luxury business. Because for him Cuba because of its proximity to the United States is particularly interesting in geopolitical terms. “The main object of Russian foreign policy has always been the United States,” says Stefan Meister of the DGAP. For the head of the Kremlin we are talking about the fact that Americans have recognized Russia as a global power. “Cuba could become a tool with which Russian would say: here we are again — you, as Americans, need to talk to us,” — says Meister.

However, Hoffmann, Bert (Bert Hoffmann), an expert on Cuba at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (Giga) in Hamburg, sees no threat to the United States because of Russia’s presence in Cuba. According to his estimates, the Russian head of state Vladimir Putin in Cuba, it is important first of all to “lighten up”.

In this light, you should probably also consider the repeated statements of Russia about opening the old military base near Havana. To date, this military base during the cold war was the post of eavesdropping, closed. “The statement was louder than the implementation,” says Hoffmann. “These games” correspond to Putin’s foreign policy, says Stefan Meister of the DGAP. They always played for the Russian head of state political role. It was necessary to convey to the Russian citizens that Putin is again making Russia great — greater than it really is.

For a global claim to supremacy, as in the days of the Soviet Union, for Russia due to its economic situation are too great. Unlike the former Soviet Union, Moscow probably cannot afford a strategic activity in Cuba. Its foreign policy is always subordinate to the “question of resources,” says Meister. Funding, he said, is very limited. This year alone, military spending had to be cut.

But as far as the dome of the Capitol in Havana, there is, obviously, money is not a big problem. The Russians want the gold leaf to make again Shine dome luxury building — and thus to revive an old friendship.