Cuba uncovers human trafficking to Russia for war

September 5, 2023

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that it had uncovered a human trafficking ring that coerced citizens to fight for Russia in its war against Ukraine. 

“The Ministry of the Interior…is working on the neutralization and dismantling of a human trafficking network that operates from Russia to incorporate Cuban citizens living there, and even some from Cuba, into the military forces participating in war operations in Ukraine,” the Cuban government said in a statement, noting that the trafficking ring was operating both on the Caribbean island and inside Russia. 

The Kremlin has not commented on the allegations.

Though Cuba is a close ally of Russia, its government stressed in its statement that “it does not form part of the conflict in Ukraine.”

Last year, Russia announced a plan to increase the side of its armed forces by more than 30% to 1.5 million combat personnel. That goal becomes all the more challenging when taking into consideration the Pentagon’s estimates that Russia has suffered nearly half a million troops killed or wounded since invading Ukraine in February 2022.

In May a Russian newspaper, the Ryazan Gazette, reported that Cubans living in Russia had joined combat forces in Ukraine in exchange for Russian citizenship. 

Whether the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s statement is linked to this report is unclear. However, it does state that “Cuba has a firm and clear historical position against the use of mercenaries.” And it goes on to say, “We will act decisively against those who…engage in human trafficking with the aim of recruiting Cuban citizens to bear arms in any country.”

On social media, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez stated that action was being taken “with the force of the law” against these claims of human trafficking operations for military recruitment purposes.

PHOTO: @Gerashchenko_en

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