By Darlington Musarurwa
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga returned from Russia yesterday, where he delivered a special message from President-elect Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa to Russian President Vladimir Putin and also attended the closing ceremony of the International Army Games, which ended on Saturday.
The ZDF was among the 189 teams from 32 countries that participated at the event, which began on July 28.
It was the third time for Zimbabwe to participate at the showcase that is also referred to as the army Olympics.
On Saturday, VP Chiwenga had a tete-a-tete with Russia’s Defence Minister General Sergei Shoigu, before the two officials visited the Zimbabwean stand at the House of Friendship — which exhibits national expositions about the history of the participating countries — at Alabino Training Ground.
Russia won this year’s edition of the International Army Games, followed by China and Kazakhastan respectively.
The Zimbabwean team also fared well.
After the games, VP Chiwenga had the opportunity to address the Zimbabwean team.
“Our work here is done, so we are returning back home, we will meet again when you return. You have done very well and with more practice, I think you will become the best,” said VP Chiwenga.
“That is what we always want; that you rub shoulders with some of these great armies in order to constantly improve ourselves. I have been briefed about your performance here and I am quite happy,” he said.
Relations between Zimbabwe and Russia predate the country’s independence, as the then USSR(United Soviet Socialist Republic) used to provide moral, technical and material support to liberation struggle.
President Mnangagwa recently met President Putin on July 27 on the sidelines of the 10th BRICS Summit that was held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
After the meeting, head of Europe and America’s directorate in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ambassador Chitsaka Chipaziwa said the meeting — the first between the two leaders — was cordial.
It is also understood that the two leaders discussed the need for multilateralism in world affairs.
Most notably, the Russian President was the first to congratulate President Mnangagwa after his inauguration on November 24, last year.
The Kremlin’s top envoy last visited Zimbabwe in 2014, for the groundbreaking ceremony of the $4 billion Darwendale Platinum project, which Government continues to actively pursue.
In 2008, Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution sponsored by Britain and the United States seeking to impose punitive sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Just like Zimbabwe, Russia continues to be targeted for sanctions by the United States of America.
On Wednesday last week, Washington announced it had renewed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA), which was first passed into law in 2001.
Coincidentally, the Trump administration, through the US State Department, announced on the same day that fresh sanctions on Russia would take effect on or before August 22.