CubaBrief: Zelenskyy calls out Cuba in his UN video address for trying to silence him. Overview of Havana’s actions backing Moscow’s imperial invasion of Ukraine

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called out Cuba and six other countries that tried to silence him.

On September 21, 2022 Cuba was called out by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy together with Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria for their failed effort to silence him from addressing the UN General Assembly in a video speech.

“I want to thank the 101 countries that voted for my video address to take place. It was a vote not only about the format. It was the vote about principles. Only seven countries voted against: Belarus, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria,” Zelenskyy said. “Seven. Seven who are afraid of the video address. Seven who respond to principles with a red button. Only seven. One hundred and one — and seven.”

This is part of a continuing pattern by Havana.

  • Euronews reported on February 24, 2022 that “only Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Syria supported the Russian recognition of independence for the occupied regions in Luhansk and Donetsk.”

  • On March 2, 2022 Cuba and Nicaragua abstained from the vote condemning the Russian invasion at the United Nations General Assembly. ( 141 votes to condemn the invasion, 5 against and 35 abstentions).

  • On April 7, 2022 Cuba, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Vietnam, were among those who voted against suspending Russia from the UN Human Rights Council ( 93 voted to suspend, 24 against, and 58 abstentions.)

  • The Cuban government is spreading Russian propaganda both domestically and internationally defending Putin’s invasion, and repeating Moscow’s talking points.

  • Cubans dissenting from this official line on the island have been arrested.

  • Cuba has taken part in Russia’s International Military Exercises that in 2022 were held in Venezuela and Iran.

Havana’s support for the imperialist invasion drew the rebuke of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. Emine Dzheppar, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on February 27, 2022 wrote on Twitter: “The MFA of Ukraine in a diplomatic note expresses its strong protest against the statements of the Government of Cuba in support of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and calls on Cuba to urge Russia to put an end to this aggression.”

Vladimir Putin and Raul Castro embrace.

Russian hardliners are also reacting to Cuba’s pro-Moscow stand calling for Cuban troops to enter the conflict. Express‘s Sophia Mencarelli reported on September 15, 2022 that “Russian top propagandist Vladimir Solovyov urged for the establishment of an international coalition with countries” that included Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Syria, Serbia, and Venezuela for its war against Ukraine.

With regards to backing Russia’s imperialist invasions, this is not Havana’s first rodeo.

The Castro dictatorship backed the Russian invasions of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Afghanistan in 1979.

  • “Castro’s apologia for the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968,” according to Charles Lane in The Washington Post was evidence that Castro was no liberator.

  • Cuba was one of nine non-aligned nations “that approved the Afghan invasion in a vote at the United Nations.” Despite this, in 1980 Fidel Castro was chairman of the 85-nation “nonaligned” bloc, but the reality continued to be Havana coordinating with Moscow.

Fidel Castro backed Leonid Brezhnev’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1979.

This is in marked contrast to the position taken by free Cubans.

On March 1, 2022 the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance held a press conference, alongside members of the “Justice Cuba” International Commission, to announce a series of events and steps to counteract the support of the Cuban, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan dictatorships for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “The Cuban exile community has come together to say that ‘We are all Ukraine,’” asserted Sylvia Iriondo, president of the Mothers and Women Against Repression organization (MAR).

The Center for a Free Cuba advocated a policy of deterrence regarding Ukraine in January 2022, condemned Putin’s imperialist invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and continues to call for Vladimir Putin to be tried for war crimes in a petition open for signatures.

ABC News, September 21, 2022

GLIMPSES: Zelenskyy calls out opponents of his video address

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered the lone video speech at the U.N. General Assembly

By The Associated Press

September 21, 2022, 6:30 PM

UNITED NATIONS — It was the lone video speech at the U.N. General Assembly, and it came from someone who had an official excuse: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

While the summit returned fully in-person to U.N. headquarters in New York this year after a remote version in 2020 and a hybrid session last year, member states overwhelmingly voted last week to allow the head of the war-torn nation to address the hall.

But there were a few holdouts. In his address Wednesday, Zelenskyy didn’t let them off the hook.

“I want to thank the 101 countries that voted for my video address to take place. It was a vote not only about the format. It was the vote about principles. Only seven countries voted against: Belarus, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria,” Zelenskyy said. “Seven. Seven who are afraid of the video address. Seven who respond to principles with a red button. Only seven. One hundred and one — and seven.”

There were also 19 abstentions.

Seated in the General Assembly Hall during Zelenskyy’s address were his wife , Olena Zelenska, and the Russian delegation. The latter remained seated through the speech, opting against walking out — a sanctioned form of protest. Zelenskyy’s speech was received with a standing ovation from several delegations.

Iran International, August 16, 2022

Russia Holding Joint Military Drills In Iran, Venezuela


While Russia is holding joint military exercises with Iran’s Revolutionary guard and other Moscow allies in central Iran, Venezuela is also hosting sniper military exercises with these countries.

Both of these joint military drills, which started on Monday, August 15, are being held in Iran and Venezuela within the framework of Russia’s 2022 International Military Exercises, which was initiated by Moscow. Venezuela has been hosting the “Sniper Frontiers.”

“The goal, the spirit of these games is to unite cultures and peoples more” than to demonstrate military skills, said Venezuelan Defense Minister General Vladimir Padrino Lopez, adding that a delegation of 200 Venezuelan soldiers has also been sent to Russia to participate in other events of these games.

The annual event was launched in 2015 at the initiative of Russia, and about 30 countries including China, Iran, India, Cuba, and Myanmar have participated in the maneuvers.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard also confirmed on Monday that it is holding joint drone exercises with Russia at the Kashan Air Base, adding that Belarus and Armenia are also partaking in the international UAV competitions.

Russia and Iran have expanded their strategic partnership since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Senior Russian and Iranian officials have met frequently in recent months to boost cooperation and sign economic and military agreements.

US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel reiterated on August 10 that Russian officials have undergone training in Iran in recent weeks as part of an agreement on the transfer of drones from the Islamic Republic.

An advisor to the Ukrainian President’s Office, Oleksiy Arestovych, said earlier in the month that Russia is using Iranian-provided military drones in its invasion of Ukraine, noting that Iran handed 46 drones over to Russia and that the Ukrainian government has already confirmed the use of these drones in combat in Ukraine.

Havana Times, March 31, 2022

Cuban Gov. Media Promotes Russia’s Narrative about Ukraine

Repeats the misinformation

FILE PHOTO: Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a joint news conference following their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. November 2, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim

By Claudia Padron Cueto

HAVANA TIMES – On February 24, media all over the world reported the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory. In Cuba, though, the tone was very different. Granma, the Cuban Communist Party’s official organ, featured a front page with the headlines: “Cuba and Russia, two very close peoples that defend peace”. The article didn’t offer a single work about the conflict.

That omission was the harbinger of what was to come in the weeks that followed. The Cuban propaganda machinery began employing widespread misinformation to promote the Russian narrative about the Ukraine war.

Day by day, the island’s official media present the United States as the chief responsible party in the conflict, and Ukraine as a “Nazi” regime, guilty of the death of its citizens. At the same time, they present Moscow as a victim, forced to mount a “special military operation” in order to defend itself.

In the rest of this article, I analyze how two of the principal government media outlets in Cuba – Cubadebate and Granma – routinely misinform citizens about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Photo: Front page of “Granma”, Cuba’s main newspaper, on February 24.

Falsifying events

From the beginning of the invasion, Cuban propaganda quoted the Kremlin’s declarations verbatim, although in some cases reality was the complete opposite of the Russian claims, while in others it was impossible to corroborate the authenticity of the affirmations.

For example, on March 13, Cubadebate accused Brent Renaud, the US journalist killed in Ukraine, of being a CIA agent. The Cuban article quoted a supposed Iranian media outlet as their source, but never specifically named the media outlet, nor did they post any link to the original source of the declarations quoted.

“According to the Iranian press, the deceased was an official of the Central Intelligence Agency and had previously been seen in Iraq,” Cubadebate wrote.

Renaud had previously collaborated with the New York Times for several years, and was the recipient of a Peabody award, one of the most important prizes for audiovisual information in the United States. His killing sparked headlines all over the world, but none of the articles mentioned this supposed link with the CIA that Cubadebate alleges.

Four days previous to this, there was another case.  The city of Mariupol was bombed by Russian forces, despite an agreed-upon cease fire in this and other parts of Ukrainian territory. Following the attack, stark images emerged of a maternity hospital covered in ruins, and a pregnant woman being carried out – who subsequently died, together with her baby.

One day after that bombing, with all the images of the event in the international press, Granma denied that Russia had violated a cease-fire agreement and quoted the head of Russia’s Center for the Promotion of National Defense, who said it was a “vile lie” and a “shameless provocation from Kiev.”

Yet another example came on March 4. That day, part of the nuclear plant at Zaporizhia caught fire as the result of a Russian attack. However, according to Granma, it was the fault of the Ukrainians, who had attacked themselves.

The Cuban propaganda organ printed: “On March 9, Nikolai Pankov, Vice Minister for the Defense of Russia, declared that the Ukrainian nationalists had carried out ‘a very dangerous provocation’, by attacking the substation and the electric lines that feed the Chernobil [nuclear] plant.”

Other war news goes unreported in Cuba

In addition to reporting events out of context, omitting relevant parts of them, and falsifying information, the government propaganda apparatus has also opted to ignore certain events that are considered major news by the majority of the world’s news outlets. For example, the following four events were never reported in the official media.

1- They made no mention that the protests in Russia against the invasion were repressed, and a part of the protesters detained. Nor did they report that the Kremlin expressly prohibited all demonstrations against the war.-

2- The Cuban media has likewise failed to inform that on March 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his country would recruit soldiers from the Middle East to fight in Ukraine, an assertion confirmed by Western intelligence reports.

3- Statistics regarding the number of civilians killed in the conflict are also not presented in the official media. In some cases, specific deaths are mentioned, but never the tolls that Ukraine or the UN have announced. On March 22, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that up to that moment the toll of civilians killed in the conflict had reached at least 953.

4- There’s been no mention of the ultimatum that Russia gave the Ukrainian troops to surrender what’s left of the city of Mariupol. That port city has been devastated by the Kremlin’s attacks, but the Cuban media has omitted any mention of the scope of that damage.

Neither war nor invasion, but a “special military operation”

From the beginning of the conflict, the official Cuban media have silently employed carefully doctored language to speak about what is happening. When referring to the Russian incursion, they mainly use the term “special military operation”, or even the “demilitarization of Ukraine”. The word “invasion” isn’t mentioned anywhere.

On March 1, Cubadebate even changed an informational heading they’d posted on their Facebook profile, in which the “invasion of Russia” was mentioned. After it initially appeared, the media outlet quickly removed the phrase from the post.

Initial publication: “Russian and Belorussian tennis players will be able to continue participating in the ATP men’s tournament and the WTA women’s tournament, including the “Grand Slams”, despite the conflict taking place in Ukraine with the Russian invasion.”

Minutes later, the text was edited to eliminate the word invasion: “Russian and Belorussian tennis players will be able to continue participating in the ATP men’s tournament and the WTA women’s tournament, including the “Grand Slams”, despite the conflict taking place in Ukraine.”

Granma is also very cautious about using the term “invasion”. The official newspaper daily publishes a number of short posts about the conflict in its digital version, but the word “invasion” isn’t mentioned. They only use it in quotes, when a third party employs it. In a review of the notes published in that media outlet about the war between March 7 and 13, the word “invasion” was only found seven times, all of them in quotes.


Claudia Padron is a Cuban journalist who graduated from Havana University in 2015 and is currently studying for a Master’s in Communication at Mexico’s “Iberoamericana University”.

News Nation, March 3, 2022

Cuba among very few supporters of Putin’s attack on Ukraine

Brian Entin, Tom Palmer

Posted: Mar 3, 2022 / 05:03 PM CST | Updated: Mar 4, 2022 / 08:55 AM CST

(NewsNation Now) — Cuba has long been a source of concern to the United States given its geographical proximity and ties to the former Soviet Union.

While Russian missiles and tanks wage war on the other side of the world, it is easy to forget about Russia’s allies in the Western Hemisphere.

Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba — which is just 90 miles off the Florida coast.

Russian Navy ships and submarines have been in the area in the past, docked at Cuban ports over the last decade.

Enrique Amor has seen the Cuban-Russian relationship up close.

He was working at the port in Cuba when Russian supplies arrived during the Cuban missile crisis back in 1962.

“The first boat arrived at the dead of night. The port authority went to check on the boat and the military took him out,” he said.

The crisis escalated into a tense, 13-day standoff between the U.S. and the then Soviet Union over the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles in Cuba, leaving many people fearing the world was on the brink of nuclear war.

James M. Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said he does not believe nuclear war is currently imminent, but there is a real potential for escalation.

Acton suggested finding an “off-ramp” that might allow Russian President Vladimir Putin a perceived victory. In 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, the U.S. secretly agreed to remove nuclear missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Soviets pulling back from Cuba.

Based on what he witnessed back then, Amor remains concerned today over Cuba’s relationship with Russia.

“With that kind of government system, anything is possible,” he said.

Country after country lashed out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Putin had a few supporters at the U.N. General Assembly meeting on Wednesday, including Cuba.

Cuba and Nicaragua abstained from the vote condemning the Russian invasion.

Cuban Ambassador Pedro Luis Cuesta blamed what he called the crisis in Ukraine on what he said is the U.S. determination to keep expanding NATO toward Russia’s borders as well as the delivery of modern weapons to Ukraine, ignoring Russia’s concerns for its own security.

Cuesta said the draft resolution to demand that Russia stop its offensive in Ukraine and withdraw all troops “suffers from lack of balance” and doesn’t begin to address the concerns of both parties or “the responsibility of those who took aggressive actions which precipitated the escalation of this conflict.”

Ukraine’s government blasted Cuba’s support for the Russian invasion.

Is there a reason to be concerned with Cuba just 90 miles off the coast of Florida?

“It is possible that Putin would want to move into Cuba the way that Khrushchev did in the 1960s, but I don’t think it is very likely at this point,” Dr. Leah Blumenfeld, associate professor of political science at Barry University in Miami, said.

Blumenfeld said that while what is happening now does have some similarities to the Cuban missile crisis, it was a very different situation.

She’s concerned for European countries closer to Russia but says at this point, she does not suspect Russian troops would end up near the U.S.

“I don’t think it would be strategically sound for Russia to expand its aggression into the Western Hemisphere in such a way,” Blumenfeld said.

In at least one way, Cuba is governed much like Russia, as protests are not allowed. There are reports of Cubans being arrested in Havana for leaving flowers at the Ukrainian embassy.

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Middle East North Africa Financial Network, Inc. (MENAFN), February 27, 2022

Ukraine – MFA strongly protests against Cuba’s statements in support of Russia

(MENAFN– UkrinForm) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine strongly protests against the statements of the Cuban government in support of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Emine Dzheppar wrote on Twitter, Ukrinform reports.

“The MFA of Ukraine in a diplomatic note expresses its strong protest against the statements of the Government of Cuba in support of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and calls on Cuba to urge Russia to put an end to this aggression,” she wrote .

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine. Martial law was imposed in Ukraine. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree on general mobilization.