Russia Ready to Study Havana's Offers on Strengthening Cuba's Defence Capacity - Ambassador

 Moscow is ready to study Havana's possible offers on further strengthening the Cuban defence potential, Russian Ambassador to Cuba Andrey Guskov said.

"As it is known, the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces are largely fitted with weapons and military equipment made in the Soviet Union and Russia, including air defence facilities and coastal gun-missile integrated weapon systems. Relevant service and repairs, delivery of spare parts and components, as well as solution of other related tasks are needed to maintain combat readiness. We take into consideration these needs in our cooperation. We are ready to study our partners' possible offers on further strengthening the Republic of Cuba's defence potential," Guskov said.

Defence cooperation is a key area of the bilateral partnership, the ambassador recalled.

The amount of loans that Russia plans to disburse to Cuba for implementing the joint projects, including on railroad infrastructure, metal industry and energy, can exceed 1 billion euros ($1.09 billion), Russian Ambassador to Cuba Andrey Guskov said.

"The total amount of the planned loans for these and other deals, which will be provided in the coming years, can exceed 1 billion euros. I want to stress again that the funds poured into the Cuban economy will be reimbursed as settled loans," Guskov said.

Under existing and pending agreements, Russia will accommodate Cuba with new loans. According to Guskov, an important contract has been signed on restoring and modernizing the Cuban railroad infrastructure, and Russian banks will provide almost 900 million euros for implementing it.

The countries will also cooperate on modernizing the Antillana de Acero metallurgical plant and on conducting general repairs at 10 energy units of Cuban combined heat and power plants, the diplomat said.

  • Published in Cuba

Denied tools for his defense, Assange remains resilient ahead of ‘epic’ extradition battle – Pilger

Julian Assange is in high spirits despite being deprived the materials he needs for his defense, veteran journalist John Pilger has reported, adding that Assange’s upcoming extradition hearing will be a battle for democracy.

Pilger tweeted out a status update after visiting the WikiLeaks co-founder in Belmarsh Prison.

“Denied the tools to prepare his defence against extradition to America, [Assange’s] resilience endures,” he wrote, stating that Assange’s upcoming court hearing will being an “epic fight… the fight of democracy.”

Pilger has been a tireless advocate for Assange, visiting him in prison multiple times and making appearances at rallies demanding the journalist’s release.

Assange will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday as he battles to stop his extradition to the United States.

In the US, Assange is charged with possession and dissemination of classified information. If found guilty, he could receive up to 175 years in prison. The journalist has been in Washington’s crosshairs for more than a decade, after WikiLeaks published a video showing the US military attacking journalists and civilians in Iraq in July 2007.

Assange’s treatment at the hands of UK authorities and other parties involved in his imprisonment was condemned by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer in October. According to Melzer, the WikiLeaks co-founder has been subjected to “psychological torture” and his right to due process has been “systematically violated.”

  • Published in World

EU Demands Five Billion Euros to Strengthen Defense

The European Union (EU) has demanded the contribution of five billion euros from its member states for the creation of a fund to finance joint defense projects.

The European Commission announced on Wednesday that initiative at a press conference, as part of a plan of measures to boost military cooperation and support the regional war industry, according to the agency.

The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Common Defense, Federica Mogherini, clarified that the objective of this program is not to create a European military or military headquarters,' like North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Mogherini said during contacts with press and media that 'a strong technological and industrial base of European defense and more cooperation' is essential in order to guarantee security in Europe.

The most recent proposal of the plan is precisely the creation of the European Defense Fund, with voluntary contributions from the member states of the bloc to develop and acquire priority defense resources; as well as support research in the field of defense from the Community budget.

Jyrki Katainen, vice-president of the Union's Employment and Growth Commission, said that while they expect to raise five billion euros, it is an 'indicative figure', since each country will contribute what it wants and 'will decide on what projects it wants to participate.'

Mogherini referred on November 10th to the need for the defense of Europe to be strong 'for a healthy relationship with the United States.'

She said that regional security 'matters even more than during the Cold War', therefore it is important for the EU to take steps to ensure its strategic autonomy.

  • Published in World
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