Cuba’s foreign ministry has announced the discovery and efforts to dismantle a human trafficking ring that coerced Cuban citizens into fighting for Russia in the war in Ukraine. The trafficking network was operating within Cuba and Russia, thousands of miles away from Moscow. The Cuban government is actively working to neutralize and dismantle this network. The Russian defense ministry has not yet responded to requests for comment.
Last year, Russia unveiled a plan to increase its armed forces by over 30% to 1.5 million combat personnel, but undisclosed casualties in the war have made achieving this goal challenging.
In late May, a Russian newspaper reported that several Cuban citizens had signed contracts with Russia’s armed forces and were sent to Ukraine in exchange for Russian citizenship. It is unclear if this report is connected to the Cuban foreign ministry’s statement.
Russia has strong political ties with Cuba, and many Cuban migrants have historically sought refuge in Russia to escape economic hardships at home.
The defense ministers of Cuba and Russia have discussed joint “technical military” projects earlier this year, but the administration of Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel denies any involvement in the Ukraine conflict. They emphasize that Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine and will vigorously oppose any form of human trafficking aimed at recruiting Cuban citizens as mercenaries to fight against any country.
Cuba has already taken action by prosecuting cases in which its citizens were coerced into fighting in Ukraine. They have successfully neutralized similar attempts and initiated criminal proceedings against those involved in these activities.
Overall, Cuba is committed to combating human trafficking and protecting its citizens from being exploited in armed conflicts.
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