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Cuba Uncovers Russian Human Trafficking Ring.

Photo credit: EFE. The 'Z' is the symbol of the Russian occupying forces in Ukraine.

The Cuban foreign ministry says it has uncovered and dismantled an illegal human trafficking ring aimed at recruiting Cubans to fight for Russia against Ukraine.

It said that Cubans living in Russia and “even some in Cuba” had been “incorporated into the military forces taking part in the war in Ukraine”.

Cuba is a close ally of Russia, but it stressed in its statement “it does not form part of the conflict in Ukraine” and that such moves have no support from the government of Cuba.

There has not yet been a response from Russia.

The Cuban foreign ministry did not specify who was behind the operation.

Last August, President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to increase its number of soldiers after its combat forces suffered heavy losses in Ukraine.

A Russian newspaper, Ryazan Gazette, has since reported that Cubans living in Russia had joined Russian combat forces fighting in Ukraine in exchange for a promise to receive Russian citizenship.

While it is not clear if the Cuban foreign ministry statement is linked to the reports in Ryazan Gazette, it states that “Cuba has a firm and clear historical position against the use of mercenaries”.

“Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine,” stressed the foreign ministry, adding that Havana is “acting and will act vigorously against anyone, from the national territory, who participates in any form of human trafficking for the purpose of recruitment or mercenarism for Cuban citizens to use arms against any country.”

In this sense, “attempts of this nature have been neutralized and criminal proceedings have been initiated against people involved in these activities,” it said.

The statement does not specify which people or organizations are behind this network.

“We will act decisively against those who… engage in human trafficking with the aim of recruiting Cuban citizens to bear arms in any country,” the statement reads.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez published the statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding that Cuba was using “the force of the law” to counter attempts to recruit its citizens.

The statement strikes a rare dissonant note in recent Cuban-Russian relations, which has seen the two countries forging tighter trade ties.

Only just over two months ago, the defence ministers of Cuba and Russia held talks in Moscow, and the Russian foreign minister travelled to the Communist-run island in April as part of a tour of Russia’s Latin American allies.

“Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine,” stressed the foreign ministry, adding that Havana is “acting and will act vigorously against anyone, from the national territory, who participates in any form of human trafficking for the purpose of recruitment or mercenarism for Cuban citizens to use arms against any country.”

In this sense, “attempts of this nature have been neutralized and criminal proceedings have been initiated against people involved in these activities,” it said.

The statement does not specify which people or organizations are behind this network.

Source: BBC, EFE.