It seemed like old times: In Havana in early July, Castro, the revolutionary leader of Cuba, embraced the current occupant of the Kremlin—once upon a time the isolated Communist island’s sugar daddy—together gleefully sticking a finger in the eye of their Cold War rival in Washington.

In this case, the Castro was Raúl—the younger brother of the ailing (or still alive?) Fidel—who now runs Cuba, and Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, who seems driven to not only reconstitute (to the extent he can) the Soviet Union but also to put the old band of anti-American developing-world countries back together again. This was the second visit from Russia’s leader since the Soviet Union fell apart and—much to Havana’s fury—Moscow effectively dumped it as an unaffordable client state.

But as Putin, since his annexation of Crimea in March and his backing of Ukrainian separatists, has become increasingly hostile toward the West, his Cuba visit raised an important question: In 2014, is a Moscow-Havana alliance as potentially consequential for the United States and its allies in the region as it once was? These, after all, were the players that in 1962 brought the world to as close to nuclear Armageddon as it has ever been.



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