Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 112

First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets is leading a massive governmental delegation on a five-day visit to Cuba which began October 10. The agenda of the talks with Fidel Castro’s government includes: resumption of assistance toward the completion of the nuclear power plant at Juragua; delivery of spare parts for Cuba’s Soviet-era military equipment, and assistance in the modernization of some categories of that equipment; and resumption of Moscow´s participation in nickel ore mining and refining in Cuba, all as long-term projects. or the short term the sides have prepared an oil-for-sugar deal entailing a barter exchange of 10.5 million tons of Russian oil for 4 million tons of Cuban raw sugar for the period 1996-1998. (1)

Soskovets, a military industry specialist, is probably also discussing proposals made by Defense Ministry and industry officials to provide via Cuba maintenance for Soviet-era weapons still in service with several Latin American armies. "Oil-for-sugar" deals were characteristic of Soviet-Cuban relations. Cuba may emerge shortchanged as it would merely supply raw sugar to be refined in Russia, which is again experiencing shortages of sugar on its market. A May 1995 agreement to exchange 3 million tons of Russian oil for 1 million tons of Cuban raw sugar has only marginally improved the supply situation in Russia. Nickel production in Cuba had been a major project dependent on Soviet funding and market.

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