Harare and Moscow on same page

Albert Chavunduka

Zimbabwe, together with countries like China, South Africa and more than 30 others recently abstained from the anti-Russia vote at the emergency session called by the UN Security Council.

The decision affirmed the country’s position and attitude towards the use of unilateral sanctions against other countries which Zimbabwe believes is combative and does not promote dialogue.

In an exclusive interview with Review and Mail, Russian Ambassador to Zimbabwe His Excellency Nikolai Vladimirovich Krasilnikov said it was clear that Moscow was making concerted efforts, working rigorously with its allies to come up with a new world order that will isolate and deny Western countries opportunities to interfere and compellingly impose their will on other sovereign states.

Vladmirovich Krasilnikov

Below is the full interview.

AC: Zimbabwe and Russia have strong ties, and recently our country abstained when other countries in the EU voted for the imposition of sanctions on Russia, to what extent does Zimbabwe’s position strengthen our relations and commitment to even stronger friendship with Russia?

Ambassador Krasilnikov: The Western countries led by the United States made incredible efforts to make sure the UN General Assembly resolution on Ukraine was widely approved. In New York and in various capitals they used blackmail, attempts of bribery and threats of sanctions. However, they failed – adoption of that document on March 2, 2022 does not represent the unified voice of the General Assembly. Dozens of the UN members refused to vote for the anti-Russian resolution. Among them are the Republic of Zimbabwe and some other African states which follow independent and balanced foreign policy.

The Statement on the issue by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is very clear.

We agree with the Zimbabwean friends that the resolution poured more fuel to the fire. It is obvious that it emboldened the Ukrainian radicals to continue their criminal actions. The anti-Russian resolution of the UN General Assembly runs counter to the direction of dialogue.

AC: For decades, Zimbabwe has been calling for the removal of sanctions illegally imposed on the country by the West, what is Russia’s take on the imposition of sanctions on the two countries? Ambassador Krasilnikov: The Western countries use economic, financial, trade and other sanctions against Russia as weapons. They have frozen some of our gold and currency reserves. They are trying to stop foreign trade and export of goods, inflicting damage on the global trade. There are attempts to create a shortage of imported essentials in Russia and to compel successful businesses with foreign capital to shut down. It looks like there is a war with neither cease-fire, nor human corridors. It is very similar to what Zimbabwe has experienced over more than 20 years.

It is evident that despite the hardships caused by the brutal illegal restrictions the people and the government became stronger and more determined to maintain the sovereignty of Zimbabwe. Under the Second Republic a remarkable socio-economic progress has been achieved.

My country has great capacity in this regard. The Russian authorities have undertaken measures to stabilise financial market, support state industries and private sector, to ensure uninterrupted functioning of enterprises without disruptions in logistics and production chains and to maintain employment.

Russia has many friends and allies, Zimbabwe is in the forefront and numerous partners in the international arena who did not lose their independence and ability to put their interests first. So, it is impossible to isolate my country or to exclude us from the World community. Russia will emerge stronger.

The sanctions will inevitably reverberate in the West and throughout the world. They have already backfired in Europe and in the United States where prices of gasoline, energy and food have shot up, and jobs in the industries associated with the Russian market have been cut.

Imposing illegal restrictions on Russia was the illogical continuation of the irresponsible and short-sighted policy of the US and EU countries’ governments and central banks. They themselves have driven up global inflation in recent years, caused rising global poverty and greater inequality across the world. The global economy and global trade as a whole have suffered a major blow, as did trust in the US dollar as the main reserve currency.

AC: Honorable Ambassador, are we going to see increased economic cooperation between our two countries?

Ambassador Krasilnikov: Everything that Russia is scheduled to supply it is supplying to consumers worldwide.

The food security of the country is guaranteed and Russia will continue to service its export obligations for foreign agricultural markets, including export of wheat and fertilizers. I assure you that the same approach is applied regarding oil export and other commodities.

Two flagships of our investment cooperation, Great Dyke Investment for developing platinum group of metals and ALROSA-Zimbabwe for exploring diamonds, are well on track with very good prospects.

I’m sure that other projects will follow due to the great interest in Russia to do business in the safe, conducive environment of Zimbabwe under the new dispensation. ICT, agriculture, energy, transport, pharmaceutics are the spheres in the focus of attention.

The bilateral agenda includes preparing the Fourth Session of the Joint Commission on Economic, Trade, Scientific and Technical Cooperation. As usual within this framework, we will discuss ways of enhancing partnership between our independent and sovereign states.

AC: We know the West uses its powerful media to drive its agenda and foreign policy. Given what is happening between Ukraine and Russia right now, the West are pushing the agenda that you’re an enemy to world peace etc. Can you help us to understand more about Russia than what we are getting from the West-controlled media?

Ambassador Krasilnikov: The Special Military Operation by the Russian Federation was undertaken to prevent escalation of aggression unleashed by the regime in Kiev against the Russian-speaking people of the Ukrainian region of Donbass. They have been suppressed for eight years in the most barbarous ways through blockade, large-scale punitive operations, terrorist attacks and constant artillery raids. Their only guilt was that they demanded basic human rights: to live according to their forefathers’ laws and traditions and to speak their native language.

Late last year and early this year, Kiev began to build up its forces along the line of contact up to 120,000 troops. Contrary to the ceasefire agreements that had been signed and violated many times prior, they dramatically increased their heavy shelling, always targeting residential areas. Shelling intensified at the start of this year. It was obvious Ukraine wanted to take Donbass by force. This was made worse by the West’s stonewalling of Russia’s initiative to reach an agreement on an equal and indivisible security architecture in Europe.

Russia recognized the republics of Donbass – the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic – and signed treaties of friendship and mutual aid with them. According to these treaties, DPR and LPR appealed to Russia for military assistance.

Those who came to power in Kiev after the coup d’état in 2014, supported by Western countries, started openly promoting neo-Nazism and facilitated establishment of Nazi organizations that our grandfathers fought and defeated back in 1941-1945 during the Great Patriotic War. Russia had been trying for years to raise attention of Western countries, including the United States, which failed to vote for the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism and all forms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance, under the pretext of avoiding infringement on freedom of speech.

The Kiev regime announced its intention to have nuclear weapons. That was a real threat for my country. Besides, there was a network of dozens of laboratories in Ukraine, where they conducted military biological programmes, including experiments with deadly diseases, financed and supervised by the US.

Numerous warnings that such developments posed a direct threat to the security of Russia were rejected by Ukraine and its NATO patrons. All our diplomatic efforts were fully in vain. My country has been left with no peaceful alternative. If our troops had acted only within the Donbass it would not have led to peace and would not have ultimately removed the threat. The frontline would have been extended around Donbass and its borders, and shelling and provocations would have continued.

At the very beginning of the special military operation the Kiev authorities were offered opportunities to avoid hostilities, to withdraw their troops from Donbass as an alternative to bloodshed. They decided not to do that.

Now we have direct talks between Russia and the Ukrainian regime. The delegations met three times in Belarus, several videoconferences were held. They discuss not only cease-fire and humanitarian corridors but also specific arrangements to make it obligatory for Ukraine to have a neutral status, not to be a stronghold for launching aggression or any kind of military pressure against Russia, not to be a breeding ground for neo-Nazism and Nazi ideology.

The special military operation is not designed to occupy Ukraine, destroy its statehood, divide the country or topple its government. It is not directed against civilians.

The goals are to protect the residents of Donbass, to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, to eliminate the military threat to Russia emanating from Ukraine flooded with weapons provided by NATO countries. We want to see Ukraine demilitarized with the neutral status fixed in its Constitution. Russia must have guarantees that weapons able to change the security balance in Europe cannot be deployed in Ukraine. We need a list of specific offensive weapons that will never be deployed or manufactured in Ukraine.

At the same time, it is obligatory to eradicate Nazism that made a comeback in Ukraine over seven decades after World War II.

What Russia proposes is an arrangement that will ensure the legitimate rights of all nationalities living in Ukraine, all ethnic minorities without exception. If the current government in Kiev agrees to the terms that are now being negotiated they will be formalized as an arrangement.

AC: Is our friendship going to continue strengthening?

Ambassador Krasilnikov: For many years Moscow and Harare have been coordinating efforts in the international arena to establish and strengthen a new system of international relations based on respect of the UN Charter, international law, principals of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of states.

So it will be a new order where the Western countries will be denied an opportunity to dictate and impose by force their will on independent and sovereign states.

The President has come to a conclusion that there was a new world order emerging that required a new mindset and new approaches. I have every reason to assure you that Russia and Zimbabwe are on the same page in this regard.

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