Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe extended his trip to Russia, where he was attending the 70th commemoration of Russia’s victory over Germany in 1945.
Russian President Vladimir Putin who invited President Mugabe in his capacity as the chairs of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, pledged continued bilateral support for Zimbabwe, and the African Continent as a whole.
Bilateral discussions reportedly included the development of a multi-billion dollar joint platinum deal, in Darwendale, signed by the two governments, last September.
Russia, which has used its veto power in the United Nations Security Council to fend off attempts by the UN to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe, was recently subjected to restrictive measures by the United States and the European Union, over its takeover of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea.
The two reportedly shared a laugh over the fact that they were both under restrictive measures from the West.
In explaining Russia’s allegiance to Zimbabwe, former Zanu-PF lawmaker, Bright Matonga says the two countries have a long history together.
“Russia has been a key ally of the Zimbabwean government before and after the liberation struggle,” Matonga said, adding that the trip is a very significant for both countries.
However, critics of President Mugabe’s multitude of trips, say President Mugabe should have forgone the trip to Russia, to attend to the more pressing issues in his country, which include economic degradation and high unemployment.
Echoing the sentiments of many, political commentator Charles Mangongera says many mega deals that have been discussed, have remained deals on paper.
“We have not seen any significant investment inflows coming into the country.”
Further, Mangongera says, Mr. Mugabe’s trip to Russia serves as a snub to Western countries, including the United States, which did not attend the celebrations, and shows Zimbabwe still has powerful friends, other than China.
“For Mr. Mugabe, this is a way of saying to the West, Russia, you know, an enemy of an enemy becomes a friend.”
President Mugabe’s trip to Russia was the first since 1987, before the breakup of the Soviet Union, in 1991.