A top Russian government official is visiting Zimbabwe, the first high profile visit in nearly a decade.
Mikhail Margelov, Russian President Dmitrii Medvedev’s special envoy, met Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at State House and subsequently told journalists, "Russia is back to Africa. We were out for a decade. We want to develop co-operation with our traditional friends."
Prior to Margelov’s visit Russia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Andrei Kushakov, said there was great interest from Russian state companies to increase their presence in Zimbabwe, citing in particular the country’s energy sector and infrastructure development, the Herald reported.
Margelov singled out Moscow’s interest in Zimbabwe’s uranium and coal deposits, adding Russia could also be interested in other minerals and possibly assisting the country’s struggling agricultural sector.
In a not so subtle swipe at the U.S. and NATO campaign in Libya Margelov said that Africa should be left to solve its problems without outside interference, telling reporters, "Only Africans have the right to solve their problems."
Russia has a large reserve of goodwill in Zimbabwe, as during the 1970s the USSR provided moral and material support that ultimately helped Zimbabwean guerrillas topple the regime of Ian Smith.
More recently the Russia Federation also blocked attempts by the U.S., Britain and their allies to use the United Nations to intensify the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, with Moscow condemning the sanctions as illegal and calling for their unconditional removal.
By. Charles Kennedy, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com