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Russia calls for lifting Western sanctions against Zimbabwe, says minister

Russia sees potential for nuclear energy cooperation with Zimbabwe, according to the minister

MOSCOW, August 7. /TASS/. Russia believes that Western sanctions slapped on Zimbabwe are hindering the country’s socio-economic development and is in favor of removing them, Russian Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dmitry Kobylkin stated.

"We are strongly in favor of fully removing Western sanctions against Harare, which are hampering efforts aimed at Zimbabwe’s socio-economic development," the minister told a meeting of the Russia-Zimbabwe Intergovernmental Commission for Economic, Trade, Scientific and Technical Cooperation.

Kobylkin added that Russia and Zimbabwe would be creating conditions to diversify cooperation. Specifically, they will address enhancing the bilateral legal framework.

The European Union, the United States, Canada and Australia earlier imposed political and economic restrictions on Zimbabwe and some of its statespersons in response to human rights violations under the Mugabe administration. Robert Mugabe agreed to step down as Zimbabwe’s President in November 2017 under pressure from the military. Nevertheless, the sanctions have not been lifted to date. The EU restrictive measures, in particular, have been extended until February 2020.

Nuclear energy cooperation with Zimbabwe

As Russian Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dmitry Kobylkin told the meeting, Russia sees the potential for intensifying cooperation with Zimbabwe in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. 

"We see the potential for the development of Russian-Zimbabwean cooperation in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Nuclear technologies could be a solution that would not only help ensure Zimbabwe’s energy security but would also serve as a comprehensive driving force for economic development," he said.

The minister added that, apart from solving the power shortage problem, nuclear technologies are widely applied in agriculture, medicine and industry.

Kobylkin also pointed out the potential for joint ventures in the diamond industry, specifically those involving Alrosa and Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).

According to the minister, Russia’s Rosgeo geological holding is interested in cultivating ties in all areas related to subsurface work, including mineral exploration.

Russian-Zimbabwean trade

The volume of Russian-Zimbabwean trade over the first five months of 2019 increased by 9.5% year-on-year to $18.5 mln, Russian Natural Resources Minister Dmitry Kobylkin reported.

However, the overall bilateral trade in 2018 totaled $45.9 mln, which is 13.6% less than a year earlier, he noted.

The minister added that considering the powerful and diverse potential of the African state, as well as taking into account the government's plans for attracting foreign investment, Russia hopes to boost cooperation under the auspices of the joint commission.

The offer of alternative methods of payment for military supplies

Russia has called on Zimbabwe to consider the option of alternative methods of payment for military supplies, as seen in the report of a meeting of the Russia-Zimbabwe Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Trade, Scientific and Technical Cooperation.

In particular, Russia asked Zimbabwe for information on acceptable areas of cooperation in the area.

According to the report, Zimbabwe will forward its initiatives to Russia before the end of September.

Defense cooperation between Russia and Zimbabwe is primarily focused on maintaining and upgrading military equipment, particularly the Mil Mi-24 and Mil Mi-35 attack helicopters, previously delivered to the African country.

A draft memorandum of cooperation

Russia will send a draft memorandum of cooperation on diamond mining and processing to Zimbabwe, according to the minutes of the fourth meeting of the Russian-Zimbabwean Intergovernmental Commission on Economic, Trade, Scientific and Technical Cooperation.

The draft memorandum will supplement the agreement earlier concluded between Russian diamond producer Alrosa and the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) on establishing a joint venture to develop diamond deposits in the African country.

"The Zimbabwean side will consider the draft and forward a response in the near future," according to the minutes of the meeting.

In mid-July 2019, Alrosa and the Zimbabwean state company inked an agreement on creating a joint venture to develop greenfield projects. Under the agreement, the shares of Alrosa and ZCDC in the joint venture will be 70% and 30% respectively.

The parties confirmed their support for the stipulations of the agreement, the minutes of the meeting read.