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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was expected in the Cuban capital on Monday for a two-day visit, the foreign ministry said, amid high tensions with the West over Ukraine.

Havana has sided with Russia in the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, but has yet to address the issue directly.

Lavrov will meet with his local counterpart Bruno Rodriguez Tuesday morning, the Cuban foreign ministry said in a notice to the media.

He is also likely to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro.

Moscow and Havana were close allies for 30 years during the Cold War, until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. After a rift under former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, the two resumed political and economic ties, as well as military cooperation.

From Havana, Lavrov was expected to head to the Peruvian capital Lima on Wednesday. The Peruvian foreign ministry said the top Russian diplomat would be received by President Ollanta Humala and hold talks with his counterpart Eda Rivas.

The upcoming visit marks Lavrov's second in less than three years and is expected to focus on military cooperation and on a Peruvian proposal for a free trade agreement, the foreign ministry said.

Moscow and Lima have had strong ties since 1969. Peru announced in December that its armed forces planned to acquire 24 Russian-made helicopters and open up a regional service center for this type of aircraft.

Word of Lavrov's Latin America tour comes as the United States and the European Union slapped another round of sanctions on Moscow for failing to stop tensions soaring in eastern Ukraine.

The punitive measures are a response to Russia's perceived lack of action in implementing an April 17 deal struck in Geneva to defuse the crisis in the former Soviet republic.


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