IN an interview with Granma International, Mikhaíl Kamynin, Russian ambassador in Cuba, stated that Russia is a great friend of Cuba, in reference to the current state of bilateral relations between the two nations. Mikhaíl Kamynin, the Russian Federation’s ambassador in Cuba. "Our countries occupy similar positions on key issues of the international agenda and are together, defending the principal values of humanity," said the diplomat referring to the more than 50 years of fraternal ties between the two nations. He considers this type of alliance as beneficial to other countries because "we are bearers of clear and authentic values, an example which serves other governments, which is why our ranks are expanding." Kamynin commented on the different bilateral agreements which have been signed over the last few years in areas such as oil, referring in particular to Russian corporations Rosneft and Zarubezhnetf which have an agreement with Cupet (Cuban Oil Union). Both companies are undertaking crude oil exploration projects, with plans for a logistical base in the Mariel Special Development Zone, 45 kilometers northwest of Havana. Other accords relating to diverse sectors such as economy; science; education; pharmacy; culture; tourism; shipping; telecommunications; radio communications; electronics and postal activities, among many other have been established. "There are many plans for joint work, both bilateral and in the regional integrationist blocs. I am also referring to the agreements on production on offshore rigs. Cuba is the principal importer of modern Russian civilian aircrafts. We have cooperation agreements and programs in different spheres of civil society," said Kamynin. The Russia-Cuba connection was established many years ago, when in 1829 the Emperor Nicolás I founded the first Russian consulate in Havana. Since then a growing interest in trade has been noted. Three young Russians, Piotr Streltsov, Eustafi Konstantinovich and Nikolai Melentiev, fought in the Mambi Army next to Major General Antonio Maceo, for Cuban independence. In July 1902, Cuba and Russia established full diplomatic relations as a result of an exchange of credentials between President of Cuba Tomás Estrada Palma, and Emperor of Russia, Nicolás II. Russians acquired a taste for Cuba’s sugar and tobacco. Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union commenced in October 1942, with significant alignment during WWII, supporting the Soviets in their fight against fascism and Hitler’s Germany. Cubans fought in the ranks of the Red Army, with the Cuban people undertook numerous efforts to send supplies to the front. Shortly afterward, in the early years of the Cold War, the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, under the aegis of the United States, broke relations with Russia on April 2 1952, which would later be reestablished on May 8, 1960 after the triumph of the Revolution. From that moment on, Cuba and Russia’s relationship became an eloquent example of active and multilateral cooperation, based on friendship and mutual benefit. The 1990’s marked a forced parenthesis with the decline in economic cooperation, as a result of the historic circumstances, but today that stage has been overcome, and relations are based on equality of rights and mutual benefit, or rather, there exists a strategic alliance to the benefit for both countries. Kamynin concluded his dialogue by recalling the creation of the solidarity organizations (Russian-Cuban and Cuban-Russian) between the countries, founded by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and revolutionary leader Ernesto Che Guevara, both of whom "Promote the spirit of friendship and fraternity between the peoples of our two countries." In different international courts the Russian government has expressed its position in opposition to the economic, commercial and financial blockage imposed by the United States on Cuba, and has demanded the immediate release of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, the remaining three of five Cuban anti-terrorists unjustly incarcerated in U.S. prisons, whose two brothers in the cause - René González and Fernando González - have already completed their full sentences. In Russia there are three friendship societies, 32 affiliated groups and 30 independent organizations working in support of the Cuban Revolution, as well as 26 committees calling for the freedom of the Cuban Five. Resolutions in opposition to the unjust economic blockade and in support of the Cuban Five have been unanimously approved in the Russian parliament. Thus, Mikhaíl Kamynin´s final words to Granma International were, "Solidarity is a genuine undertaking, an excellent way to continue working together on common interests, to the benefit of both countries."