President Putin congratulates Fidel Castro on his 90th birthday 0

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a message to the former Cuban president and revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, congratulating him on his 90th birthday. “You enjoy deep respect in Russia as an outstanding statesman who devoted his entire life to serving the people of Cuba,” Putin wrote in a telegram message posted on the Kremlin’s website on Saturday.

Putin underlined Castro’s “personal contribution to the development of friendship and cooperation” between Russia and Cuba. The Russian leader wished Castro “good health, longevity, vitality and prosperity.” Castro served as the president of Cuba from 1976 to 2008 and as the first secretary of the central committee of the Communist party of the country from 1961 to 2011.

The revolutionary leader is one of the giant figures of modern history who defied the United States to turn his island nation into a firm ally of the Soviet Union. Cuba and Russia have maintained diplomatic relations since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Moscow-Havana ties increased after Putin came into power in 2000. In December 2000, Putin visited Cuba, where he along with Castro called for the lifting of US sanctions against Cuba. Russia is still Cuba’s leading creditor and the two countries maintain close economic ties.