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Russian Influence Takes Root As Zimbabwe Gets New Russian Helicopters

By Guy Martin Zimbabwe’s government this week took delivery of dozens of new aircraft, including a new VIP jet and up to 50 Russian helicopters. Eighteen Ansat helicopters were handed over at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on 18 May during a ceremony presided over by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, which was also attended by Rostec Director General Sergey Chemezov. Most were in emergency medical services colours, but four were wearing police colour schemes. The government said the helicopters would be used as air ambulances, for search and rescue, and air policing. They will also be used for VIP transport and Air Force use. Although the initial batch of helicopters delivered amounts to 18, Zimbabwe will have 32 by the end of the year. They are being acquired under a public-private partnership arrangement at a cost of $2.5 million each, local media reported. During the handover ceremony, Mnangagwa said that “Zimbabwe is under sanctions, we are constrained unlike our neighbours and the rest of the world to acquire the tools we need to mitigate the impact of cyclones and disasters in our region.

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