Russia's increasing influence in Cuba stirs ghost of Cold War

At Havana’s colorful May Day parade Wednesday, Raul Castro, the first secretary of Cuba’s Communist Party, received the highest distinction from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation: the Order of Lenin.

The former Cuba president said the prize — first presented in 1930 by the Soviet Union — pointed to the “historic relations” between the two countries that “have endured different scenarios and today are being reinforced and renewed.”

This rapprochement is not new but has been consolidated by shared opposition to sanctions imposed on Cuba by Washington, which accuses the Caribbean nation of providing military support to Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, another Moscow ally.

“The effect of this policy is that it isolates the United States on Cuba and we’re opening the door for greater Chinese and Russian presence on the island,” said Ric Herrero, executive director of the Cuba Study Group, which connects Cuban-Americans advocating economic and political freedom on the island.