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Cablegate: Russia Review for Suspension of Title Iii of The

VZCZCXRO2938
PP RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #3576/01 3451515
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101515Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1079
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 003576

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/RUS AND WHA/CCA (DAVID MCFARLAND)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ETTC PREL CU RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA REVIEW FOR SUSPENSION OF TITLE III OF THE
LIBERTAD ACT

REF: A. STATE 126578
B. MOSCOW 3526
C. MOSCOW 1500

THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR
DISTRIBUTION OUTSIDE USG CHANNELS OR FOR POSTING ON THE
INTERNET.

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) In response to reftel, GOR support for democracy and
human rights in Cuba has been minimal. Both President
Medvedev and Deputy PM Sechin have visited Cuba within the
last six months, but the visits produced no major political
or economic agreements. Despite these efforts to strengthen
ties with Cuba, Russia's economic relations with Cuba remain
limited. Russia provided humanitarian hurricane assistance
to Cuba. END SUMMARY.

------------------------------------------
Limited Democracy and Human Rights Efforts
------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) We are not aware of any GOR action to promote the
advancement of democracy and human rights, to condemn human
rights abuses, or to support the development of civil society
in Cuba.

----------------------------
High Level Diplomatic Visits
----------------------------

3. (SBU) Following the APEC Summit in Peru in November,
President Medvedev, accompanied by FM Lavrov, visited Cuba
and met with President Raul Castro and former President Fidel
Castro (Ref B). Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who
oversees the energy sector, has also visited Cuba four times
within the last six months. During Sechin's August visit, he
led a delegation of several Cabinet Ministers (including the
Energy, Telecommunications, and Education and Science
Ministers) and leading Russian businessmen, including Gazprom
Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev. None of these visits produced
any meaningful agreements, either political or economic.

4. (SBU) Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque visited
Moscow in November. The visit also had little impact. Cuban
President Raul Castro is expected to visit Moscow during the
first quarter of 2009.

------------------------------
Investment and Trade Relations
------------------------------

5. (SBU) As noted above, President Medvedev's and Deputy PM
Sechin's visits to Cuba have produced few concrete agreements
on economic cooperation. During Sechin's trip in August, he
co-chaired a Russian-Cuban Intergovernmental Committee on
Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, which
discussed potential cooperation in energy, mining, transport,
shipbuilding, agriculture, tourism, health care,
communications and banking. There were no specific deals
executed in any of these areas. In the past six months, the
countries have signed several agreements in
telecommunications, automobile production, nickel extraction,
and oil and gas extraction, all of which provide for only
general cooperation.

6. (SBU) Beyond these general agreements, Cuba has agreed to
purchase a handful of Russian-made aircraft, and the Russian
truck manufacturer Kamaz is reportedly in talks with Cuban
officials about the possibility of opening a truck assembly
factory in Cuba. Russia has also provided Cuba with a $300
million dollar loan at a below-market rate of interest, on
the condition that Cuba use the loan proceeds to purchase
Russian goods and services. We are not aware of any GOR or
Russian private sector participation in the November 3 Havana
Trade Fair.

7. (SBU) In 2007, Russian-Cuban two-way trade totaled $363
million. Bilateral trade exceeded $207 million in the first
half of 2008, an increase of almost 20% compared to the first
half of 2007. Russia's principal exports to Cuba are
aircraft, heavy machines and equipment. Cuba's principal
exports to Russia are sugar, pharmaceuticals, medical
equipment, and cigars.


MOSCOW 00003576 002 OF 002


-----------------------
Humanitarian Assistance
-----------------------

8. (SBU) Russia was one of the first countries to send
humanitarian aid to Cuba following Hurricanes Gustav and Ike,
reportedly sending a total of four planeloads with over 60
tons of humanitarian supplies in early September. During one
of his visits to Cuba, Russian Deputy PM Sechin toured areas
affected by the hurricanes, promised more Russian assistance,
and noted the need to rebuild Cuba's electricity generation
system.

-----------------------------
Exchange and Medical Programs
-----------------------------

9. (SBU) Russian officials have made general statements about
the potential for closer cooperation between Russia and Cuba
in health care, including the possibility of greater
pharmaceutical purchases from Cuba. Russian drug makers
Pharmstandard and Pharmapark recently agreed with Cuba's
Center of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnologies to
cooperate on vaccine production in Russia.
RUBIN

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