After the disintegration of the Soviet Union Russian-Cuban relations suffered a dramatic downturn with by the end of 1992 diplomatic relations remaining but little else of the ‘special’ 30-year relationship. Moreover, it became the almost ‘forgotten’ relationship in international relation, but from the mid-1990s onwards, it began to improve. Realism was important in both the downturn and subsequent upturn, but it cannot fully account for either, or the timing of the improvement. This article argues that the one constant in the relationship in the years since 1991 has been the impact of neoliberal economic thinking, with the Russian adoption of these ideas being particularly important, and it is only with analysing the relationship in this manner that a fuller understanding of it in this period can be achieved. Furthermore, the importance of neoliberal economic thinking can also be seen in Russia’s recent reassertion into Latin America resulting in Russian-Cuban relations providing a means for understanding Moscow’s increased interest in the region as a whole.