Zimbabwe is looking to establish direct flights with Russia in line with longstanding close ties between the two countries, says National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda.

During an interview with RIA Novosti on a recent visit to Moscow, Mudenda said: "We are working on it. We would welcome if a Russian airline operated flights to Zimbabwe, and when we have the appropriate aviation equipment, we would also like to plan return flights.

"But all this requires careful study at the bilateral level by the Ministries of Tourism and, of course, by the Ministers of Transport, who are responsible for the functioning of the aviation industry. We are determined to ensure that work in this direction is carried out, that it be accelerated so that airlines begin substantive interaction," he said.

Mudenda re-confirmed Zimbabwe's continued support for its longstanding ally, despite Vladimir Putin's ongoing war on Ukraine and Russia's annexation of the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine. This followed referenda in the partially occupied provinces, which Ukraine and its Western allies have denounced as illegal and fake, aimed at justifying the annexation.

"Zimbabwe was on the side of Russia even before the referendums in terms of understanding the root causes of the current situation. Zimbabwe and Russia are victims of the sanctions, and this makes us comrades in the sanctions battle. To the extent that we are victims of sanctions, we share with Russia the same consequences of sanctions. So it is not surprising that Zimbabwe is on the side of Russia," Mudenda said. The United States and European Union have maintained sanctions against Zimbabwe since 2003 aimed at political and economic reforms.

Air Zimbabwe (UM, Harare International) was not immediately available for comment.

The state carrier has two B767-200(ER)s that are currently in maintenance. With a nautical range of 6,590 nautical miles (12,204 km), the aircraft could fly the 4,414 nautical miles (8,175 km) non-stop between Harare International and Moscow. However, hot-and-high conditions at Harare would mean a reduced payload. The aircraft are also 32 and 33 years old, respectively.

They were previously deployed on long-haul routes to London Gatwick (UK) and Beijing Capital (China). Zimbabwe currently operates no intercontinental flights. Its only international/regional routes are Johannesburg O.R. Tambo (South Africa) and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) served with a B737-200 and E145, the ch-aviation fleets module shows.