Putin: Russia prioritizes strengthening relations with Africa

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony to present awards in the field of literature and art to young cultural figures in Moscow, Russia, March 26, 2024. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS/ File photo

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that the development of relations with African countries is Moscow’s priority.

Speaking at a meeting with his Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa in St. Petersburg, Putin said the presence of an African leader at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum (SPIEF) demonstrates that the interest in the development of ties was mutual.

He noted that relations between Russia and Zimbabwe were established a time when African countries were struggling against neocolonialism, adding “it was a pleasure to see our trade turnover multiply over the past year.”

“In this regard, we must do more work in order to diversify our ties…We have agreed that we will develop our cooperation on both sides. New formats have also been created, in particular, the format of meetings and consultations at the level of foreign ministers,” he said.

Putin announced that this year, a meeting of foreign ministers will take place in Russia’s resort city of Sochi in the autumn.

Mnangagwa said southern Africa is seen as an “anti-Western region” and because of that, it is facing multiple challenges both at the national and global levels.

He urged Putin to analyze where Russia and Zimbabwe can expand cooperation, inviting the two countries to stick together, especially since they have similar views on many international issues.

Mnangagwa said the US has been consolidating its military forces in Zambia, with which Zimbabwe was once one country, posing threats to his nation.

“We were once part of one country that was divided. The Americans are consolidating their forces in this country from the point of view of security, from the point of view of financial support for Zambia,” he said.

Unlike its neighbor, Zimbabwe is determined to gain true independence and expects support from Russia in this regard, he noted.

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