Upward Pressure

Historic friends, Zimbabwe remains neutral to Russia, despite hard hit to fragile economy

By Farai Shawn Matiashe

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Posted on March 25, 2022 15:05

Russia’s President Putin meets with his Zimbabwean counterpart Mnangagwa in Moscow
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with his Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia January 15, 2019. Sergei Chirikov/Pool via REUTERS

The Russia-Ukraine war might be geographically far away from Africa, but its ripple effects have already trickled down to many Zimbabweans who were already grappling with economic mismanagement by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. Even so, the negative impact hasn’t completely swayed Harare to criticise Moscow, given the historic ties between the two nations.

The cordial relations between Zimbabwe and Russia can be traced back to the liberation struggle fought by Zimbabwean nationalists against the British colonialists. Russia provided training and other support to some of the freedom fighters.

In 2003, then President Robert Mugabe adopted the Look East Policy after the US and other Western nations imposed sanctions on targeted individuals and entities following gross human rights violations and a chaotic Land Reform Programme by his regime. At the time, Mugabe had cordial relations with both Russia and China.

Mnangagwa’s government has also maintained this relationship with some countries, such as Russia and Belarus, after he came to power in 2017 through a military coup that toppled his mentor Mugabe. Mnangagwa’s bids to re-engage with the West have not borne any fruits due to continuous gross human rights violations, corruption and

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