Cape Town – Russian President Vladmir Putin has reportedly vowed to stand by Zimbabwe and shield the southern African country against any “Western aggression”.

\n

russiaAccording to The Herald, Putin, who was speaking during an hour-long meeting with President Robert Mugabe in Moscow, said Russia was ready to “thwart” any Western hostility against Zimbabwe.

\n

Mugabe, 91, fell out of favour with the West in 2000, after embarking on a controversial land redistribution exercise which he said was meant to redress colonial land imbalances.

\n

The West also accused the veteran leader of human rights abuses and slapped him and his inner circle with travel restrictions.

\n

Mugabe, who is still in Moscow, joined Putin over the weekend in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the World War II victory over Nazi Germany.

\n

Mugabe was invited to the event in his capacity as the African Union chair.

\n

The two leaders sought to cement bilateral relations, with Mugabe pressing “increased Russian investment in agriculture, mining, infrastructure development and the manufacturing industries”, the report said.

\n

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was in Zimbabwe in September on a high profile visit during which Russia announced plans to build a $3bn platinum mine in that country.

\n

Lavrov, at the time, hailed Mugabe as an “African legend and historic figure”.

\n

\n

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.