Russian President Vladimir Putin has presented Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa with a helicopter, signalling Moscow’s efforts to strengthen its relationship with the southern African nation, which is currently facing significant sanctions.
According to Zimbabwe’s Information Ministry, the gifted helicopter will be rebranded as “X” and will soon be delivered to Zimbabwe. Alongside the helicopter, Russia has also announced a donation of grain, including maize and wheat, to Zimbabwe. This donation is part of Moscow’s aid to six African countries, aiming to provide free food assistance.
President Mnangagwa attended the Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg, where these gifts were announced. He emphasized the importance of cooperation between countries facing Western sanctions and highlighted that such collaborations are essential for their survival.
President Putin stated during the summit that Russia would be donating up to 50,000 tonnes of grain to Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Eritrea.
Despite Zimbabwe’s claims of being food secure, President Mnangagwa expressed gratitude for the grain donation, underscoring the significance of partnerships in agriculture, technology, and education.
Both Zimbabwe and Russia have developed close ties as they grapple with western sanctions. Earlier, Zimbabwe received 18 helicopters from Russia in a $320 million deal, purportedly a public-private partnership. The deal sparked concerns due to its lack of approval by Parliament and queries about the cost of each helicopter at $10 million.
Nonetheless, President Mnangagwa defended the deal, stating that Zimbabwe sought to overcome the impact of Western sanctions through cooperation with friendly countries like Russia.