Russia on Thursday moved to revive ties with one of Moscow''s top Cold War allies, hosting President Raul Castro on the first visit by a Cuban leader since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

President Dmitry Medvedev welcomed Castro at the Zavidovo hunting lodge outside Moscow where Soviet leaders once entertained their closest foreign allies and even took him on a traditional winter picnic in the snow.

During the week-long visit, the two sides will seek to expand relations set back by the fall of the Soviet Union but which have improved in recent years as Russia seeks to align itself closer with anti-US states in Latin America.

The choice of the hunting lodge northwest of Moscow for the first talks of the week-long visit was rich in symbolism.

Raul Castro''s brother -- Cuba''s revolutionary founder Fidel Castro -- held talks here with then Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in the 1960s. Raul Castro made several Soviet-era visits to Moscow between 1960 and 1984.

"I am very glad to see you not only in Russia but in this forest location where you have been once before," Medvedev told his guest.

"It was a long time ago and we are very glad that your visit after practically 25 years is taking place and I hope it will bring all the necessary results."