It remains to be seen how significantly the two countries can aid one another as both Cuba and Russia deal with flagging economies and the impacts of U.S. trade sanctions.

"They are looking at ways to rebuild the relationship but it's not that easy anymore," said Marc Frank, author of the book "Cuban Revelations." "Russia is no longer the Soviet Union while Cuba is still a Cuba. It's a communist country while Russia really is not."

According to Granma, Fidel Castro discussed with Putin his research into growing food in tropical and subtropical climates as a way to fight the effects of global warming.

Many Cubans said they remembered the relative economic security that the alliance with the Soviet Union brought and welcomed a renewed Russian presence on the island.

The child of a Cuban father and Russian mother, Andrei Shevsou in 2013 opened the Havana restaurant Tavariche, which serves Russian food and is filled with mementos of the Soviet era in Cuba.

"One country is cold, the other is hot. We have different food, different ways of thinking," he said. "But we found common ground because [we] lived through historic times together."