Mugabe Condemns Sanctions Against Russia at Lavrov Talks

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who’s been a target of sanctions for more than a decade, said penalties against Russia over its role in Ukraine were “illegal” because they weren’t approved by the United Nations.

“They are illegal sanctions,” Mugabe, 90, told reporters today after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at his rural home in Kutama Village, 130 kilometers (81 miles) north of the capital Harare. “So you have a lawless part of our international community seeking to dominate the rest of the world and we say no.”

The U.S. and the European Union last week tightened restrictions against Russia over the Ukrainian conflict, accusing it of stoking a separatist insurrection that’s raged since April. Zimbabwe was one of 10 countries which joined Russia in voting against a UN resolution condemning its takeover of Crimea from Ukraine in March.

“These are the evil men of our world,” Mugabe said. “Those who go and act in defiance of international law, sanctions that were never approved by the UN.”

Trade bans and some economic embargoes were placed on Mugabe and senior members of his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party in 2002 by the U.S., the EU, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The EU has subsequently lifted most sanctions against Zimbabweans, though those directed at Mugabe and his wife, Grace, remain in place.

‘Desperate Need’

Lavrov, who arrived as part of a Russian business delegation opening a platinum mine in Zimbabwe, said “international law” was the only “peaceful means” of resolving disputes.

“The right of the people to decide their own destiny, to resolve all disputes without any unilateral acts, in particular the pervasive acts which Russia and Zimbabwe are experiencing themselves,” should be respected under international law, he said.

Lavrov said it’s important is to recognize pluralism in the international community, as well as “the emergence of new, big players, including the African continent, whose interests and voices must be taken into account in world politics.”

Zimbabwe is in “desperate need of investment,” Thea Fourie, an analyst at IHS Global Insight in Johannesburg, said today in an e-mailed statement. Mugabe “has reached out to partners such as China and Russia to fill the gap,” according to Fourie.

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