Russia offered Zimbabwe to conclude an intergovernmental agreement about the mutual protection of investments. Russian companies may thus obtain an opportunity to develop one of the world's largest deposits of platinum. In return, Zimbabwe, which remains under the influence of sanctions from the USA and EU, will receive military hardware from Russia. Moreover, Russia intends to ship a large batch of arms to another US-unfriendly country.
Russia is currently in talks with Zimbabwe about the above-mentioned agreement, the Kommersant Daily wrote with reference to a source in the presidential administration. The document, the newspaper wrote, is being developed in accordance with Putin's decree from May 16th in connection with Russia's intention to enter the market of the African country.
It goes about Darwendale platinum project. Russian Technologies State Corporation has already won the support from Zimbabwean officials during the visit to the country in April, an official with the Kremlin administration said. The Zimbabwean authorities, he added, are interested in the deliveries of Russian arms, particularly helicopters. "It goes about the delivery of rights to Russian Technologies for the development of the deposit in return for helicopters," another official said.
The deposit in Darwendale Valley is the second largest deposit of platinum in the world. It is situated in the south-eastern part of Africa. It also contains palladium, gold, rhodium, nickel and copper. The proven reserves of platinum make up 19 tons with total resources of 755 tons. The potential of the deposit is 43-45 million ounces of platinum, or 1,3-1,4 thousand tons.
The license for the development of Darwendale belongs to Ruschrome Mining - a joint company of the government of Zimbabwe and the Russian center for business cooperation with foreign countries. Martin Rushwaia, a constant secretary of Zimbabwe's Defense Ministry serves as the chairman of Board of Directors of Ruschrome. Andrei Shutov, formerly a businessman in Renova group of companies, presides over the Russian consortium of investors.
Ruschrome received the license for the exploration and development of the deposit for 25 years. All preparations were completed in January of this year, and the company received an opportunity to start the development of the deposit. The total volume of investments in the project makes up $300 million. The estimated production volume - 2 million tons of ore a year, Business-TASS reports.
It is worthy of note that "arms in exchange for goods" schemes used to be practiced by the USSR. Peru, for example, paid fishing quotas to the Soviet Union, Algeria - hydrocarbons, Nigeria - cocoa. However, experts say that the above-mentioned variant - helicopters in exchange for the right to develop the platinum deposit - may not work for Russia due to the instability of the political regime in Zimbabwe.
Robert Mugabe has been ruling Zimbabwe since 1980. The West considers him a dictator. There is a strong opposition in the country that enjoys the support from the West. The opposition may come to power in the country in the foreseeable future. Rumor has it that Mugabe suffers from cancer.
Meanwhile, Russia may send military hardware to another US-unfriendly country - Venezuela. The governmental delegation of Venezuela is negotiating the terms of the delivery of a large batch of T-72 tanks to Caracas within the scope of the Russian loan, the Kommersant said.
This may mark a second large delivery of Russian tanks to Venezuela during the recent two years. The previous delivery of 92 T-72B1B tanks was successfully completed in March of this year.
The new deliveries will be conducted within the framework of the Russian loan of $4 billion. The previous batch was delivered to Venezuela on the base of the 2.2-billion-dollar loan. Russia gave the loan to Venezuela after the latter recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Arms deliveries to Caracas are a part of the strategy of Russia's economic expansion in Venezuela. However, despite the enormous investments, Russia comes second after Belarus on the Venezuelan market. The commodity circulation between the two countries has increased more than 200 times during the recent five years and made up $1.3 billion last year. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has recently called Venezuela a "platform for the Belarusian expansion."
Both Russia and Ukraine have been increasing their military presence on the border between the two countries lately. Russia warned Ukraine against any military scenarios