Russian President Vladimir Putin landed in Cuba early Friday morning to begin a six-day tour of Latin American countries. The visit, which will also include stops in Argentina and Brazil, aims to increase Russia’s trade presence and economic ties in the region, with a brief intermission for soccer-related responsibilities.
At the Russian president’s first stop in Havana, he was greeted at the airport by First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, as well as other Russian and Cuban officials, according to Cuba’s Prensa Latina news agency. During Putin’s time in Havana, he is expected to meet with President Raul Castro and former president Fidel Castro.
The Cuba visit comes as Russia is in the process of forgiving 90 percent of Cuba’s Soviet-era debt (more than $35 billion) as part of a greater effort to strengthen economic connections between the two nations and the region as a whole. The governments expect to hold bilateral talks on trade and other economic initiatives during Putin’s stop in Cuba.
After Havana, Putin will travel to Argentina on Saturday and arrive in Brazil on Sunday in time for the final match of the World Cup. While there, he will also participate in a handover ceremony of host responsibilites for the next World Cup tournament, which Russia will host in 2018.