Cuba Says It Broke Up Russia's Recruiting Scheme for Troops

Island's government calls operation 'human trafficking'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2023 2:03 PM CDT
Cuba Says It Broke Up Russia's Recruiting Scheme for Troops
Russia's President Vladimir Putin, left, and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Jose Marti monument in Havana, Cuba, in 2014. Both are still in office.   (AP Photo/Ismael Francisco, Cubadebate)

Cuba announced Tuesday that it has foiled an effort to pull its citizens into Russia's war on Ukraine, labeling the scheme a human trafficking ring. A statement by Cuba's foreign ministry says it has started to prosecute those accused of assisting the effort to recruit people for the fighting, NPR reports. It said Cubans living in Russia also were targeted. A Russian newspaper previously reported that Cubans in Russia had joined Russian combat forces sent to fight in Ukraine, per the BBC, when promised Russian citizenship in exchange. Russia did not immediately respond to Cuba's allegation.

The Moscow Times reported that a social media account has posted ads in a "Cubans in Moscow" Facebook group about one-year contracts being offered by the Russian army. As of Tuesday, the group had almost 76,000 members, per the New York Times. Cuba's statement didn't mention that, but it did refer to its historical opposition to the use of mercenaries. "We will act decisively against those who ... engage in human trafficking with the aim of recruiting Cuban citizens to bear arms in any country," Cuba said. The two allies don't often clash publicly, but Cuba has been trying to make clear recently that it's not helping Russia with its invasion. "Cuba plays no role in the war in Ukraine," Tuesday's statement says. (More Cuba stories.)

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