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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Zimbabwe is Russia’s trusted ally – President Putin

Story by Justin Mahlahla in St Petersburg, Russia

RUSSIAN President, Vladimir Putin this Thursday held a bilateral meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa on the sidelines of the Second Russia-Africa Summit in St Petersburg, where he expressed gratitude for Zimbabwe’s support and friendship.

“I am delighted to welcome all of you to St Petersburg. Zimbabwe is Russia’s reliable ally on the African continent. We have established solid, reliable and friendly ties which date back to the time when the people of Zimbabwe fought for their independence.

“Mr President, we highly value your personal contribution to strengthening cooperation between our two countries in all areas,” he said.

He noted that there is positive momentum in political dialogue between the two countries, including in inter-parliamentary ties.

“The speakers of our respective upper chambers of parliament exchanged visits over the past two years. The Speaker of Zimbabwe’s National Assembly visited Moscow on two occasions. The two biggest parties of our countries, United Russia and the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front, have been working with each other,” President Putin said.

“After a slight decrease in 2022, trade increased severalfold in January-April, not only making up for lost ground, but even achieving a higher result. We have good prospects for working together in multiple sectors, as we will be sure to discuss today,” he added.

President Putin said the practice of educating Zimbabwean specialists in Russia has also proven its worth, with 1,200 students from Zimbabwe studying at Russian universities.

“We increased the number of government grants for the 2023–2024 academic year from 80 to 125. I am happy to note the growing interest in studying Russian. Over 100 Zimbabweans are currently enrolled in the online courses offered by St Petersburg State University.”

The Russian leader said Zimbabwean and Russian ministries of sport and culture intend to sign bilateral memorandums of understanding on the sidelines of the Second Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum, to help strengthen humanitarian relations and ties.

“Russia and Zimbabwe have common or close views on most current issues on the international agenda. Your country traditionally supports Russia’s foreign political initiatives at the UN and votes for our candidates when it is necessary to fill a position. We very much appreciate this.”

President Putin expressed hope that Zimbabwe’s general elections will be held peacefully.

“We know that your country will hold a general election soon. I am certain that it will be held in full compliance with national and international standards, and I would like to wish you and the party you lead every success,” he said.

In a gesture of goodwill and strengthening of the existing bilateral ties, President Putin gifted President Mnangagwa with a state-of-the-art presidential helicopter which will soon be ferried to Zimbabwe.

More updates from the Second Russia-Africa summit here: www.summitafrica.ru/en

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