Cuba says it dismantled human trafficking ring recruiting for Russian in Ukraine (includes video story)

Earlier this month, Cuban authorities say they discovered a human trafficking ring that delivered soldiers from the island nation to fight for Russia on Ukrainian battlefields.

Seventeen people were arrested, two of them living on the island, said Cesar Rodriguez, a colonel with Cuba´s interior ministry. But he didn’t name them. Nor did he say how many soldiers had been trafficked.

Cuba has said it has no part in the conflict and that it rejects its citizens becoming mercenaries.

The news of the smuggling ring is no surprise to many experts in Cuban affairs because, they say,  it derives from a monetary partnership with a foreign ally.

“This is a smoke screen, emergency operation launched by the Cuban regime itself to save face in front of the European Union and salvage [an] agreement with the EU,” said Sebastian Arcos, associate director of FIU’s Cuban Research Institute and a Cuban dissident. “They need European investments and European tourists in Cuba.”

Alexandra Howard is a senior pursuing a dual degree in digital journalism and political science. She intends to later graduate from law school and become an immigration lawyer and political journalist.