The head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, yesterday Monday in Havana railed against the “authoritarianism” and “hegemony” of the US and other Western countries in the international order, during the first day of a tour that began in Latin America, in the framework of which he will visit also Venezuela and Brazil.

“The realities of the multipolar world (…) cause an aggressive reaction on the part of the US and other countries of the global minority, which want by all means to maintain their autocracy, their hegemony and their diktats,” said the Russian foreign minister during a meeting with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez.

“The means used by representatives of the US and other Western countries for this purpose have nothing to do with diplomacy, but blackmail, ultimatums, threats, the use of brute force and sanctions,” he continued, according to the text of his posting posted in Russian on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Cuba “knows firsthand this illegal pressure, the absolute embargo that the US alone defends as legitimate behavior,” he added.

Republican former President Donald Trump (2017-2021) strengthened during his term the US embargo against Cuba, which has been in place since the 1960s. His Democratic successor, Joe Biden, has only partially reversed his predecessor’s measures .

For its part, Russia has been under Western sanctions that have been intensifying since its army invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Sergey Lavrov was also expected to meet with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel. He will then go to Venezuela, then Brazil, where he will participate in a G20 ministerial meeting.

This is Mr Lavrov’s second visit to the communist-ruled island in less than a year.

The Cuban-Russian relationship strengthened after President Díaz-Canel’s visit to Moscow in late 2022, where he met with his counterpart Vladimir Putin.

As part of the rewarming of the bilateral relationship, Havana and Cuba signed economic cooperation agreements, while the visits of officials from one country to the other multiplied.

“In 2023, our bilateral trade will increase ninefold” compared to 2022, Russian Ambassador to Havana Viktor Koronelli said on Russian state television in December.

According to official Russian data, in 2022 the trade exchanges between the two countries had a value of about 450 million dollars.

The rapprochement with Moscow comes as Cuba experiences its worst economic crisis in three decades.

On a visit to the island in April, Mr Lavrov thanked Cuba for its “understanding” regarding the war in Ukraine. Havana, which calls for a negotiated solution to the conflict, has never condemned the Russian military invasion in February 2022.

Following press reports of Cubans being recruited to join the war in Ukraine, authorities in Havana announced in September the arrest of 17 people with alleged ties to a ring operating out of Russia.

Since then, no information has been released about this investigation.