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Washington’s new approach toward Cuba resembles Cold War rhetoric: Moscow

Russia has criticized US President Donald Trump’s policy reversal on Cuba, which led to freezing a hardly-achieved détente between Washington and Havana, saying launching a regretful barrage of verbal attacks by the White House on the Caribbean island’s leaders is but reminiscent of the bygone “Cold War era.”

“The new policy, announced by the US president in relation to Cuba, brings us back to the already forgotten rhetoric in the Cold War style. Such policy characterized the US approach to Cuba for decades,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry in a statement published on its website on Sunday.

“It’s clear that anti-Cuban discourse is still widely in demand. This cannot but cause regret,” the ministry said, adding that Moscow was reaffirming its “unshakeable solidarity with Cuba.”

The statement came two days after Trump announced that he was “canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba” in yet another attempt to roll back the legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama, calling it a “terrible and misguided deal.”

Washington and Havana became ideological archenemies soon after the 1959 Cuban revolution that brought Fidel Castro, a close ally of the Soviet Union, to power. Two years later, the US severed diplomatic relations with Cuba and in 1962 imposed an official embargo against the Caribbean country. The neighbors’ ties remained hostile even after the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union.

US President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro in New York, September 29, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

In December 2014, then US President Obama announced that Washington would normalize ties with Cuba after more than half a century of non-engagement and hostilities. He said at the time that change in the island nation by isolating it had failed and that it was time to try a new approach.

Obama then worked to enact several changes to Cuban policy during his tenure in the White House. He re-established diplomatic relations with Havana in 2015 and loosened some restrictions on doing business in the country.

The restoration of ties eased travel restrictions against Cuba, enabling businesses, including tourism and food industries, to engage in commercial deals. He also gave illegal immigrants from Cuba a path to legal status and opened travel to the Caribbean country.

Elsewhere in the statement, the Russian ministry said easing of sanctions under Obama was a “well-thought-out political decision in which there were no losers except marginal Castro opponents.”

Moscow maintains close relations with Havana, and in March inked a deal to export oil to the country for the first time in over a decade.

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