Mnangagwa blames ‘NATO expansion’ for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

HARARE – In his first public comments over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said it was a “robust” response by President Vladmir Putin to “provocation” by NATO, a military alliance of 30 countries including the United States and Britain.

Zimbabwe was one of 24 countries that voted against a United Nations General Assembly resolution to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council last Thursday.

The United States-initiated resolution that expressed “grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine” received 93 votes in favour and 24 against, with 58 member states abstaining from the process.

Mnangagwa refused to condemn Russia, claiming that because of Putin’s intervention to stop Ukraine from joining NATO, “a new world order is emerging, and Zimbabwe must respond appropriately and creatively, so it is not side-lined or placed on the receiving end of these fast-paced global changes.”

“Our activities in the past two months, and going forward, should be understood from that broad, regional, continental and global perspective,” Mnangagwa wrote in his weekly column published by state-run Sunday Mail newspaper.

“Zimbabwe, itself already a victim of western unilateralism, is in the full glare of all these global headwinds. Against NATO’s provocative eastward expansion in Europe, and the Russian Federation’s robust response to that threat of encirclement by NATO, a new situation has arisen which requires that we re-map the world with a view to finding our own place and securing our interests.

“Like in the case of Zimbabwe which has endured more than two decades of illegal sanctions, the conflict raging in Eastern Europe has made many nations realise how powerful nations and global interests still function on old and archaic notions of ‘spheres of influence’, and that they will not hesitate to use unilateral economic coercion to bully independent-minded states unwilling to kowtow to their whims and interests.”

Mnangagwa predicted that the United States might be in danger of losing its global reserve currency status. About 60 percent of the US$12.8 trillion in global currency reserves are currently held in dollars, giving the United States an exorbitant privilege over other countries.

“The hitherto unchallenged currency and medium of international trade is being shaken as a key global player. Russia demands payment in its domestic currency. The Chinese yuan is also challenging dominance of the United States dollar. All this points to a shift in the global epicentre,” he opined.

Mnangagwa said the conflict had illustrated the vitality of food security as “global supply chains both for fertilisers and grains stand imperilled.”

“Foremost, Zimbabwe must be a food-secure nation. This means ensuring our agriculture is modernised through mechanisation for greater efficiencies and productivity. We will not stop at anything to achieve food security for our nation. For that to happen, we need to secure vital inputs for our agricultural sector,” he wrote.

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