Cuba has discovered a human trafficking ring that has forced its nationals to fight for Russia in Ukraine, according to the country’s foreign ministry, which added that Cuban officials are attempting to “neutralize and dismantle” the network.
The statement from Cuba’s foreign ministry provided few information, but claimed that the trafficking organization was active both on the Caribbean island country and in Russia.
“The Ministry of the Interior…is working on the neutralization and dismantling of a human trafficking network that operates from Russia in order to incorporate Cuban citizens living there, and even some from Cuba, into military forces participating in war operations in Ukraine,” according to a Cuban government statement.
The Russian government has not commented on the allegations.
Russia last year announced a plan to boost the size of its armed forces by more than 30% to 1.5 million combat personnel, a lofty goal made harder by its heavy but of yet undisclosed casualties in the war.
In late May, a Russia newspaper in Ryazan city reported that several Cuban citizens had signed contracts with Russia’s armed forces and had been shipped to Ukraine in return for Russian citizenship.
It was not immediately clear if the Cuban foreign ministry statement was associated with the Ryazan report.
But Cuba’s government said it had already begun prosecuting cases in which its citizens had been coerced into fighting in Ukraine.
“Attempts of this nature have been neutralized and criminal proceedings have been initiated against people involved in these activities,” the Monday statement read.