Mnangagwa one of just two leaders at snubbed Russia summit; ‘nobody new and notable’ showed up

Mnangagwa one of just two leaders at snubbed Russia summit; ‘nobody new and notable’ showed up

By Agencies

LONDON: Returning to Harare Sunday from Russia where he had attended the 27th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), President Emmerson Mnangagwa boasted to cheering supporters he was the only African president invited to the summit.

While still in Russia the Zanu PF leader described host and counterpart Vladimir Putin as “my dear brother”. He added that “Zimbabwe considers the Russian Federation as a consistent global ally”.

The Zanu PF leader was joined in St Petersburg by Bolivia President Luis Alberto Arce Catacora.

According to Reuters, the two leaders were joined by 45 other foreign officials including the Saudi energy minister, Oman’s minister of trade and commerce, and a senior Taliban official.

“It is regrettable and unacceptable that the collective West continues to peruse hegemonic tendencies that blatantly violate the sovereign equality of nations, justice and fairness,” Mnangagwa told the forum.

The annual summit is the latest effort in the Russia’s campaign to try to show that everything is still normal, Max Hess, fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and author of “Economic War: Ukraine and the Global Conflict Between Russia and the West,” told CNBC on Thursday.

“They trumpet and highlight international attendees and domestic propaganda, extremely, but except for a few of the usual characters like the Hungarian Foreign Minister [Peter Szijjarto], nobody new and notable is showing up and also no new major investments or deals will be agreed at this forum, at least not with major foreign countries,” he said.

The St. Petersburg gathering used to be known as Russia’s “Davos” in a nod to the World Economic Forum that’s held in Switzerland every year.

However, war in Ukraine has changed the dial in global geopolitical and trade relations. The days when scores of Western business leaders and heads of state attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum are long gone.

Now, Russia is looking to use SPIEF to court new relationships with countries apparently less squeamish about doing business with a country that has invaded its neighbour — namely a number of nations in Asia, Latin America and Africa — and those willing to turn a blind eye to the war for their own economic interests, such as Russia’s oil and gas customers in Eastern Europe, Slovakia and Hungary.