African leaders participate in Russia’s Victory Day event

Three African leaders from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Egypt were among the invited global personalities who witnessed this year’s Victory Day parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany during the World War II in Europe.

Ghana News Agency (GNA) learned that around 2,300 people were invited to the Red Square for celebrations, including veterans from Russia and abroad. According to media reports, Putin shared the reviewing stand with the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa, all members of the BRICS group.

According to a press release issued by the Kremlin, the festive events included a grand parade at the Red Square, paying tribute to the memory of those who died on the Soviet front of World War II by laying garlands of flowers and wreaths to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in the Alexander Gardens outside the Kremlin walls.

Also a formal photo session for Putin with top-level foreign visitors in the Alexander Gardens, after which the guests walked to the Grand Kremlin Palace to take part in a gala reception given in the name of the Russian President, and crowned with a concert on Red Square and gala fireworks.

Yury Ushakov, a Russian presidential aide, told the media here that Russian President Vladimir Putin held a number of bilateral meetings on Saturday with prominent international leaders, among them the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe.

On Friday, President Jacob Zuma arrived in Moscow on the invitation of President Vladimir Putin to attend the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.

As expected, this visit will further cement the strong and warm relations between South Africa and the Russian Federation, which are expressed through cooperation in political, economic, social, defence and security areas.

Earlier this year, the Russian Federation worked with South Africa to facilitate the historic repatriation of heroes of the struggle for liberation, Mr J. B. Marks and Mr Moses Kotane back to South Africa. They were reburied in the North West province.

President Zuma was accompanied by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, and Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov met with Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa M. Nkoana-Mashabane.

Lavrov and Nkoana-Mashabane underlined unreservedly the continuing importance of the Great Victory for the fate of the whole world, and both sides further discussed prospects of cooperation between Russia and South Africa in the spirit of traditional friendship and strategic partnership. The ministers called for further intensive efforts in Moscow and Pretoria capacity of mutually beneficial relations in trade-economic, mining, energy, cultural and other fields.

The meeting expressed a common opinion on the feasibility of the development and promotion of joint economic projects in Russia and South Africa. Lavrov informed the South African delegation about the upcoming Ufa BRICS summit slated for July 8-10.

For Egypt, President Fattah Sisi also used the chance to discuss bilateral economic ties during his two-day visit to Moscow. In February, Putin visited Egypt to boost bilateral ties with the Arab republic. During the visit, the two countries signed a number of agreements on cooperation in the spheres of trade, nuclear energy, space, tourism and agriculture.

For Mugabe, the 91-year-old leader has been criticised for his numerous foreign trips this year. Mugabe returned home two weeks ago from Indonesia having, before that, travelled to Singapore twice and also visited Algeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Namibia, Japan and South Africa.

Despised by the West, Mugabe has been looking to China and Russia for investment and much-needed financial assistance to help pull Zimbabwe out of its economic problems. Despite that, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov went on an official visit to Harare last September during which the Russian Government announced plans to build a $3 billion platinum mine in the country.

A Senior Researcher on foreign policy at the Institute of African Studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences told Ghana News Agency by phone that the appearance and participation of three African leaders in Moscow was an exceptional timing for their respective countries and Russia because “Russia needs more partners especially during this period of sanctions against the country and at this time when global politics is changing.”

Many families marked the day by visiting war memorials and exchanging reminiscences of family members who sacrificed for victory in what Russians still call the Great Patriotic War.

The parade featured Russian military equipment and members of the Russian military which all played a major role in the celebrations. The parade showcased 16,000 military servicemen marching, 194 units of military hardware and 143 combat aircraft.

According to official data, about 27 million Soviet citizens, including both civilians and servicemen, died in the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany in 1941-1945.

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