Commemorating the Anniversary of Victory of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale
Ambassador Ilya Rogachev of Russia awarding a commemorative medal to Ambassador Rodolfo Benitez Verson of Cuba (Photo: Embassy of Russia)

29 March 2021

On 23 March 2021, a commemorative event was held to mark the 33rd anniversary of the victory of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale during the Civil War in Angola (1975 – 2002) held at 'Freedom Park' in Pretoria, Tshwane.

Amongst the attendees were South African Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, Ambassador of Russia to South Africa Mr Ilya Rogachev, Ambassador of Cuba to South Africa Mr Rodolfo Benitez Verson, representatives of the diplomatic missions of Namibia and Angola, veterans who had participated in the battle.

Addressing guests Ambassador Rogachev said, “On this day, we pay our greatest respects to all those who fought bravely for the freedom of the peoples of Southern Africa in the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale. This battle, being the largest engagement that took place on the African continent after the Second World War, became the watershed moment in the South African liberation struggle and came down in history as the “African Stalingrad.” Russia takes pride in the fact that it could contribute to this landslide event.”

The Ambassador of Russia reminded of military expert assistance, financial backing, aid in personnel training and on international platforms, provided by the USSR to the liberation movements in Southern Africa. Thousands of Soviet doctors, engineers, builders offered humanitarian support to the Angolans.

On behalf of the Russian Union of Angola Veterans, Ambassador Ilya Rogachev awarded commemorative medals “30 years of Victory in the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale” to the veterans as well as to the diplomats of Cuba, Angola and Namibia – the countries directly involved in the battle. The Cuban internationalist combatants in Angola, Antonio Jardines del Valle and Juan Pérez Aldana, were also awarded medals.

Ambassador Rogachev bestowed a medal on Minister Nathi Mthethwa as a token of Russia’s gratitude for the contribution to the preservation of the history of the African people’s liberation struggle.

All the speakers recognized the key role that Cuba played in the victory in Cuito Cuanavale and the significance of this military conflict as a defining moment in the history of Southern Africa.
Ambassador Benitez Verson (left) and Ambassador Rogachev (right) with Minister Nathi Mthethwa laying wreaths at the 'Wall of Names'

Floral offerings were laid at the foot of the 'Wall of Names' honouring the memory of those who fought for freedom of Southern Africa. Among theses were 2,289 Cubans who lost their lives in the battle as well the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, for his leadership in those battles.

READ ALSO: 30th Anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale

The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale (August 1987 – March 1988) was a decisive engagement of the Angolan Civil War and a crucial step in the struggle for independence of the countries of Southern Africa from colonialism and apartheid. During the battle, the People’s Armed Forces of Liberation of Angola backed by USSR, Cuba, People’s Liberation Army of Namibia, African National Congress and others defeated the combatants of the Angolan “UNITA” party and the racist regime of RSA supported by the US.

Embassy of Russia, Embassy of Cuba and staff reporter