Hurricane Ian has caused an island-wide blackout in Cuba this year making the government deal with a deepening energy crisis and growing discontent among Cubans.

The Caribbean island is again in the middle of an escalating tug-of-war between the United States, and Russia.

Russian oil has rushed onto the island, relieving severe blackouts, just as Cuba is pleading with the Biden administration to relax U.S. sanctions that it claims to hinder storm recovery efforts.

Since the commencement of the Ukraine crisis, Russia has delivered an estimated $352 million worth of oil to Cuba, the country's largest inflow this century, said reports.

In an increasingly complex geopolitical situation, the island nation has been left with its hands tied.

The deepening energy crisis is a major concern for Cuba. Foreign oil has been the country's primary energy source for decades.

Before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Soviets sold Cuban oil for a significant discount to market prices. Later, during the height of its oil boom, Cuba struck a similar agreement with communist ally Venezuela, providing Cuban doctors in exchange for cheaper petroleum.

Since Venezuela has fallen into its own crisis, though, Cuba has been left short on both oil and a way to pay for it.

Despite speculation that Venezuela may be fronting part of the costs, Cuba’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Carlos Cossío told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that “Cuba, of course, pays.”

Key power plants, however, slowly deteriorated over years of postponed maintenance. The Cuban government struggled to develop its own energy industry and utilize the island's solar and wind energy resources.

Cuba blames the lack of investment on American sanctions meant to cripple the nation’s economy.

The American embargo stretches back to the Cold War, though Cuba had a brief respite during the Obama administration. Restrictions came back into full force under the Trump administration, exacerbating economic turmoil caused by COVID-19.

While President Joe Biden has eased certain sanctions, many of the measures have stayed in place.

Cuba's economic troubles are attributed by American officials and critics to poor leadership and a failure to support the country's private sector.

Representation Image. wostemme /Pixabay

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