Putin yuks it up with Fidel at start of Latin America tour

Putin yuks it up with Fidel at start of Latin America tour

[Ed. – Odds are you hadn’t even heard about this trip from U.S. media.]

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has met Cuba’s ruling Castro brothers at the start of a Latin American tour courting stronger trade and diplomatic ties as Moscow’s relations with the West fester over Ukraine.

Mr Putin laid a wreath at Revolution Square in Havana with Raúl Castro, the communist island’s president, and later met for an hour behind closed doors with his older brother Fidel, the long-time former dictator.

The visit was far from ceremonial as Russia agreed to write off 90 per cent of the impoverished island’s $35 billion (£20 billion) debts to Moscow and announced a series of oil and trade initiatives with its ally, a staunch supporter of Mr Putin during the Ukraine crisis.

n a clear swipe at American dominance of its regional “backyard”, Mr Putin said that Russia was “interested in a strong, economically stable and politically independent, united Latin America that is becoming an important part of the emerging polycentric world order”.

The Russian president was kicking off a five-day Latin American trip that will culminate with a summit of the leaders of the emergent economic powers of the so-called BRICS states – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

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