Recently, Russia's foreign policy ties have acquired a very specific character. A greater percentage of agreements on the development of commodity circulation between the Russian Federation and foreign countries are born, if not in heavy agony, then go through a series of manifest difficulties. Perhaps this situation has become a global trend: no easy deals without taking into account the undercurrents of the political situation. You want to trade - remember that your potential trading partner has its own political skeleton in the closet, the presence of which cannot be ignored.
The political skeletons and other factors accompanying the current international agreements were also manifested during the visit of the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev to the countries of Latin America. Medvedev last week visited two states in the region, and the agreements reached in these countries became an occasion for discussion. Particularly hotly in Russia itself have responded to reports that Russia is ready this year to write off most of the Cuban debt, which has been “hanging” since the days of the USSR, as well as on the restructuring of its remaining part.
The piquancy of the situation lies in the fact that the exact amount of Cuba’s debt to the Russian Federation as the successor of the USSR is not called by anyone. More precisely - they call everything, but the amounts named by various experts rarely coincide with each other. For example, before 2005, the Ministry of Finance of Russia talked about the 19,5 number of billions of dollars. In 2005, Alexei Kudrin, who at that time held the post of head of the Ministry of Finance, had already started talking about new data - 25 billion dollars. It would seem that everything is correct - the amount of debt is growing, because no one has canceled interest on loans. However, already in 2006, the deputy to Mr. Kudrin, Sergey Storchak, made his own arithmetic calculations and outlined the amount of debt in 22 billion dollars. Why has debt declined by as much as $ 3 billion in just a few months? Perhaps the Cubans paid part of it? However, the Cubans not only did not pay anything, but in general they didn’t recognize the fact of having the debt to Moscow for more than two decades. Some complaints from the authorities of Havana were answered by the following: you in general 1991 “threw” us at all, refusing to cooperate on the already signed agreements, and therefore we could give you our own and reciprocal claims.
In general, Russia for the time being considered the percentages of the Cuban debt, Cuba clearly hinted that “you didn’t pay for Lourdes with us” and they themselves refused to fulfill their trade obligations in the early nineties ... They did until 2013. All these correspondence disputes and mutual claims of the former “brothers forever” and led to the fact that both in Russia and in Cuba everyone considered his debt, let's say, partner, solely by his own method - who, what is in that city. Particularly distinguished were some publications in Russia, which, due to some kind of their own financial analysis and economic arithmetic, were able to calculate Cuba’s debt to Russia in the amount of 35 billions of dollars. At the same time, none of the masters who published this amount did not bother to clarify where the sum came from. But, apparently, a completely different goal was pursued here: they say Medvedev gives away our money to you with tens of billions, and here we sit and squish with our noses ...
No - of course, multi-billion dollar gifts for our once best friends in Latin America are at least controversial. But after all, having said “A”, not all publications (especially those who consider themselves to be irreconcilably oppositional) will say “B”. Information by the majority of Russian media is being presented as: Medvedev writes off a $ X billion debt to Cuba. Writes off, they say, and that's it ...
But, in actual fact, the cancellation and restructuring of Cuban debt from Russia on closer examination of these agreements turns out to be very, very promising. We have recently written off many things, but in the overwhelming majority of cases, the write-off was, indeed, carried out from despair. In fact, the Russian authorities recognized that they would not give us the debt anyway, and so - even though there is an opportunity to declare a further course on "friendship and cooperation." In the case of Cuba, the situation is somewhat different.
Firstly, it should be noted that after the talks held in Havana, Raul Castro, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Island of Freedom, allowed himself what seemed impossible several years ago. He acknowledged the existence of a debt to Russia, and in fact refused the very possibility of putting forward financial claims to Moscow. In addition, the signing of preliminary agreements with Cuba itself did not boil down to a situation that a number of Russian media outlines roughly like this:
Russia: Cuba, we forgive you 30 billion bucks! ..
Cuba: Thank you, Dmitry Anatolyevich, goodbye, hello to the family ...
In fact, we are talking about the so-called impressive bilateral concessions. The first "concession" is that it is Russian companies that can get the right to work together with Cuban companies to develop oil fields on the Cuban shelf. By the way, the presence of impressive hydrocarbon reserves off the coast of Cuba was discovered even by Soviet specialists in the second half of the eighties. One should not forget that not so long ago, the Russian state-owned company Zarubezhneft signed agreements with the Cuban party, according to which, if new studies on the shelf of Liberty Island lead to the discovery of large reserves of so-called commercial hydrocarbons, then the Russian company will receive the right to jointly produce oil from Cuban “Cubapetroleo” for the next 20 years.
Oil production on the shelf of Cuba according to Russian technologies can lead to certain preferences for both Cuba and Russia. It will be possible to sell the produced oil to other countries of the Caribbean and even to other regions, which, to put it mildly, is no longer in the interests of the United States. In addition to Venezuela, getting another large oil producer in the region of its own southeastern underbelly, whose policy, let's say, does not quite impress Washington, is a new headache for the United States.
However, in addition to the oil issue, there are a number of others that make us take a different look at the restructuring of Cuba’s debt to Russia. In particular, during the visit of Prime Minister Medvedev to the Island of Freedom, truly breakthrough agreements were reached in terms of mutual trade. The Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation, jointly with the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Trade, signed an agreement on cooperation in terms of a unified tariff system, which today is already more than productively manifesting itself in the framework of the Customs Union. In this regard, Cuba is turning, let's say, into a kind of candidate for joining the Customs Union, because full-fledged tariff preferences do not apply to countries that are not members of the union. The new rules of trade between Russia and Cuba, according to representatives of the Cuban side, can lead to significant advances. One of the areas of cooperation is the involvement of Russian specialists in the modernization of the railway communication system, without which the development of the mining sector is impossible. It turns out that Russia gets into its hands a very tasty piece of puff pie, in which - not only oil production, but also transportation of the extracted raw materials to various ports of the country.
In addition, Russia and Cuba are switching to a system of so-called best-selling trade deals. In other words, there will be no mediation in the conduct of commodity operations between Moscow and Havana, which will reduce the cost of mutually imported goods for both Russia and Cuba.
Cuban supply contracts concluded aviation technicians: three An-158 aircraft, two Tu-204, as well as for the re-equipment by Russian specialists of the Il-96-400 aircraft located on Liberty Island.
Russia and Cuba signed agreements on cooperation in education, nuclear power, space exploration and hydrometeorology. It was decided to sign a protocol on the exchange of information, which many experts associate with the possible resumption by Russia, let's say, of monitoring the situation on the territory of our large “partner” - the United States. I do not want to put forward any unconfirmed conjectures about the fact that the Russian military presence (or the presence of dual use) could revive in Cuba, but for some reason the essence of the phrase “information exchange” is not fully disclosed by the press services in full ...
The visit to Cuba of Prime Minister Medvedev was held after he visited Brazil, where he also managed to sign a series of lucrative contracts. One of the topics discussed was the fact that Brazil is buying the Russian Igla-S and the Pantsir-1 air defense missile systems, as well as the fact that Russian specialists in Brazil will start building several nuclear power plants and hydropower plants, the appearance of which will saturate the growing Brazilian economy electricity. In other words, while the European Union declares the indispensability of abandoning nuclear energy, South America is taking a different path, which will give a serious impetus to the same Brazilian economy.
During the visit of Dmitry Medvedev to Brazil, the so-called "meat issue" was also settled. The fact is that not so long ago, Russia threatened countries that export meat products to the Russian Federation that do not meet Russian standards to refuse to purchase. While the US was hysterical about the fact that Moscow exerts political “meat” pressure, the Brazilians took into account Russia's requirements and signed an agreement on the supply of meat to Russia under new conditions.
Summing up all the above, it is worth rehashing a classic quotation: rumors about the demise of Russia's foreign trade policy are greatly exaggerated. It remains to hope that all the agreements reached will not remain exclusively on paper ...
Russia reopens Latin America
- Alexei Volodin