On September 4, Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement that its Ministry of the Interior “has detected and it is working to neutralize and dismantle a human trafficking network that operates from Russia in order to incorporate Cuban citizens living there and even some living in Cuba, into the military forces that participate in military operations in Ukraine. Attempts of this nature have been neutralized and criminal proceedings have been initiated against those involved in these activities.” Moreover, “Cuba’s enemies are promoting distorted information that seeks to tarnish the country’s image and present it as an accomplice to these transact actions that we firmly reject.”
This statement also said, “Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine. It is acting and it will firmly act against those who within the national territory participate in any form of human trafficking for mercenaryism or recruitment purposes so that Cuban citizens may raise weapons against any country.”
Finally, according to the Cuban statement, “Cuba has a firm and clear historical position against mercenaryism, and it plays an active role in the United Nations in rejection of the aforementioned practice, being the author of several of the initiatives approved in that forum.”
Without mention by the Cuban Ministry, a Russian newspaper in May had reported that “’several’ Cuban citizens had volunteered as contract soldiers in the Russian army, and some hoped to become Russian citizens in exchange for their service.”
Also without mention by the Cuban Ministry, “The Moscow Times [an independent English-language and Russian-language online newspaper now headquartered in Amsterdam] reported that a social media account under the name of Elena Shuvalova had for months been posting ads in a Facebook group called “Cubans in Moscow” offering a one-year contract with the Russian Army. On Tuesday, the group had nearly 76,000 members.”
The U.S. State Department said the U.S. was “deeply concerned” by this news.
This situation poses a difficult problem for Cuba.
As noted in other posts, Cuba and Russia recently have commenced various means of cooperating, and Cuba presumably does not want to interfere with that cooperation. Moreover, as previously mentioned, “Cuba has a firm and clear historical position against mercenaryism, and it plays an active role in the United Nations in rejection of the aforementioned practice, being the author of several of the initiatives approved in that forum” and Cuba does not want to blemish that reputation.
Finally, as is well known, the United States is a strong supporter of Ukraine in its war with Russia, and Cuba does not need another point of contention with the U.S.
 Statement of [Cuba] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cuba counters human trafficking operations for military recruitment purposes (Sept. 4, 2023); Satronova, Cuba Says Its Citizens Were Lured to Fight in Russia’s Wat om Ukraine, N.Y. Times (Sept. 5, 2023); Sheridan & Dadouch, Cuba Says Russian human traffickers lure citizens to war with Ukraine, Wash. Post (Sept. 5, 2023); Cordoba, Cuba Says Russian Ring Is Recruiting Cubans to Ukraine, W.S.J. (Sept. 5, 2023).Torres, Cuba says it’s dismantling human trafficking ring sending Cubans to fight for Russia in Ukraine, Miami Herald (Sept. 5, 2023); U.S. State Dep’t, Department Press Briefing—September 5, 2023.