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‘Zim wants to bolster relations with Russia despite US pressure’

Local News
President Emmerson Mnangagwa

The United States is putting pressure on Zimbabwe to persuade the authorities of the southern African country to abandon co-operation with Russia, but Harare is determined to increase interaction with Moscow, Russian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Nikolay Krasilnikov said in an interview with Sputnik.

As an example, he cited the visit of “a fairly representative delegation of African-American businessmen,” which took place despite the scandal over the expulsion of USAid representatives from Zimbabwe. According to the ambassador, the delegates were well received, and plans were outlined to organise US$500 million in investments, with the US planning to build a biotechnology institute in Zimbabwe.

“If we do not occupy the niches in the Zimbabwean economy that we can still occupy, the Americans will occupy them,” the diplomat added.

Krasilnikov noted that Russia, along with China, is perceived in Zimbabwe as a strategic partner and that Zimbabweans value relations with Russia and its people.

“Contrary to attempts to put pressure on Zimbabwe, attempts that are taking place on the part of Western countries, including the Americans ... Zimbabweans not only do not give up their intentions to co-operate, but are ready to increase interaction and are interested in our investments and in our technologies. They are open to partnership,” the envoy said.

Referring to the USAid scandal, Krasilnikov did not rule out the possibility that Zimbabwe's leaders might in the future expel Western, including American, diplomats for interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said early this month that Zimbabwean authorities in February expelled members of a USAid team overseeing democracy, human rights and governance assessments.

Zimbabwe is proud and happy about the arrest and expulsion of the illegal US agents who reportedly came to hold secret meetings, Farai Marapira, director of information and publicity for Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF party, told Sputnik earlier.

Zimbabwe interested in co-operation with Russia

Speaking about the vectors of cooperation between Harare and Moscow, ambassador Krasilnikov noted that Zimbabwe is interested in Russian technologies, business, and co-operation in the areas of socio-economic development.

“Zimbabweans are interested in our investments, in our technologies in various areas of socio-economic development. They are interested in our business,” he said.

Krasilnikov noted that a business forum will be held with the participation of Russian companies from various sectors on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair which will run from April 23 to 27 in Bulawayo. The envoy advised Russian companies, and small and medium-sized businesses to pay attention to the event, which he described as “the largest Zimbabwean exhibition and one of the largest in Southern Africa”.

The diplomat also revealed that Russia’s United Grain Company, Demetra Trading and Zimbabwe’s Agriculture ministry are discussing the possibility of commercial grain shipments to the southern African country.

He said that food aid is very important for Zimbabwe because of the drought and lack of agricultural produce.

In addition, Krasilnikov suggested that a future meeting of the intergovernmental commission between Russia and Zimbabwe will discuss the delivery and assembly of Russian equipment in Zimbabwe. The diplomat also expressed confidence that “one of the main” topics at the meeting should be the issue of bilateral co-operation in the metallurgical industry.

Bilateral visits

The Russian ambassador in Harare told Sputnik that Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has always expressed interest in visiting Russia, and he is welcome in the country.

The diplomat recalled that the current Zimbabwean president visited Russia in 2019 and in 2023.

“You know, he has always expressed interest in visiting Russia. Of course, President Mnangagwa is always a welcome guest in our country,” Krasilnikov remarked.

The ambassador added that Russia is working on organising a visit of a delegation from Zimbabwe to Russia in the field of health care and information and communication technologies.

He noted that the countries have an intensive exchange of delegations. In particular, the diplomat said that prominent Zimbabwean politicians came to the Russian presidential election as observers and gave a “high assessment of the organisation of the vote”.

Krasilnikov also revealed that the Russian Embassy in Zimbabwe is interested in opening a Russian Centre for Science and Culture in the African country, which is in demand in Harare.

“We are interested in opening such a centre despite the fact that in the neighbouring country, Zambia, a centre of Russian science and culture has long been operating in Zambia through Rossotrudnichestvo [Russia’s Humanitarian Agency]... Its work is clearly missing for Zimbabwe. And, of course, there is a need to open such an institution here. A centre for the study of the Russian language could be considered as a basis for starting such an institution,” the envoy said.

He noted that the University of Zimbabwe, in cooperation with St Petersburg State University, is working on the issue of opening a Russian language centre in Harare.

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