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Praising Moscow, Mnangagwa accuses US of backing Zambia’s military

The Zimbabwean President praised Putin for protecting Russian independence and for being a consistent ally to his country 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s remarks on Friday, captured on camera, that accused the United States of financing Zambia’s security sector in order to isolate Zimbabwe, look like the latest salvo in an increasingly ugly battle for geopolitical influence.

Mnangagwa, speaking at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, praised President Vladimir Putin for defending the independence and territorial integrity of Russia, and lampooned the west in a speech which mentioned Zimbabwe’s colonial history.

‘It is regrettable and unacceptable that the collective West continues to peruse hegemonic tendencies that blatantly violate the sovereign equality of nations, justice and fairness,’ Mnangagwa told the forum. 

He also praised Russia as a consistent ally of Zimbabwe.

The US has stepped up its diplomatic engagement with Zambia and Congo-Kinshasa in recent months, particularly through the prism of securing access to critical minerals. President Joe Biden also hosted a four-day state visit for Kenya’s William Ruto several weeks ago and will designate Kenya as a privileged non-NATO ally, paving the way for investment in its military and counter-terrorism efforts (AC Vol 65 No 12, Ruto revels in the western embrace).

With little Western interest in Zimbabwe either as a diplomatic ally, or investment partner, Mnangagwa has fewer options besides Moscow.

‘There is a lot that we can open for the Russian Federation to participate in our economy, especially in the mining sector and agriculture. There is a lot that we can afford for you to participate,’ he told delegates.

‘And in that process, the west will run away. You see, the west has just begun consolidating its power in Zambia,’ he added. Zambia has refused to retaliate, describing the remarks as ‘unfortunate’.

Last week, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov made a three-day tour of Guinea, Burkina Faso, Congo-Brazzaville and Chad, with military support at the top of the agenda in all cases. In Burkina Faso, Lavrov said that that the number of Russian military trainers in the country would increase.

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