When Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Havana this week to build closer ties with Cuba's senior leadership, it begged the question, "Haven't we seen this movie before?"

Our narrative starts at the height of the Cold War. Cuba's revolutionary government established formal diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union on May 8, 1960. Washington, in turn, severed ties with Havana on January 3, 1961. By the time Vladimir Putin was a 10-year-old and Barack Obama was an infant, we had already lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the establishment of the Lourdes signals intelligence center near Havana, and more, which brought the heat of the Cold War within a hundred miles of our shores.

Back then, the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations decided it simply would not do to have what was called a "Soviet puppet" in what some still call our "backyard." President Kennedy, as Cuba scholar Daniel Erikson wrote, reinterpreted the Monroe Doctrine "to support American efforts to contain the expansion of Soviet influence into the hemisphere."



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