Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 46

The Russian Foreign Ministry yesterday criticized a U.S. Congress bill toughening sanctions against Cuba, describing it as "contradictory to international law" and "as an infringement on the legitimate interests of sovereign states." It suggested that the "Helms-Burton bill" had been hastily passed following the February 24 downing of two U.S. civilian planes by Cuban military aircraft (See Monitor, February 27) and expressed disappointment that the Clinton administration would sign the bill. The ministry also emphasized that Moscow will not be deterred by U.S. trade sanctions against Cuba, declaring that "Russia will widen trade and economic cooperation with [Cuba], strictly observing the principles of equality and mutual benefits." (1)

The bill has also stirred opposition among many U.S. allies, including Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, all of whom trade with Cuba and have warned that the sanctions could provoke retaliation against U.S. businesses. The legislation would permit U.S. nationals to sue in U.S. courts for compensation from third-country companies that use property originally expropriated by the Castro government from exiles of Cuba. These "extraterritorial" features, aimed at punishing foreign companies that profit from the use of such property, most concern U.S. allies. For Moscow, the bill is an especially inviting target because it comes amid reviving trade relations with Cuba and at a politically-charged time when all Russian political forces are intent upon demonstrating their determination to protect Russian interests.

Chechnya’s Destruction Continues.