DEMOCRATIC Party leader Harry Kalaba says it will be up to Russia to decide whether to impose restrictions on the country following Zambia’s decision to vote for the United Nation’s resolution to reprimand that country for invading Ukraine.

On Wednesday, during a rare emergency session called by the United Nations Security Council, 141 countries, including Zambia, voted to reprimand Russia for invading Ukraine and demanded that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces, an action that aims to diplomatically isolate Russia at the world body.

But in an interview, Kalaba said Zambians needed to understand why the government voted in that particular way.

“We need to understand what has made the Zambian government to vote in that particular way. Maybe you and I are not privy to the information that they have which we might not have. However, even given that situation, I can confirm that Zambia has got very strong bilateral relations with Russia from 1964. In fact, our relations with Russia if my memory serves me right started when we just got our independence somewhere around 1965. Moscow was already a friend of ours,” Kalaba said.

“You remember that at some point, we even had an airplane and the Russian airline was flying directly from Lusaka into Moscow. Our students have been studying in Moscow since time immemorial. We have had doctors in Zambia coming here and we have had our fertiliser being procured from Russia. Personally, I even traveled as Foreign [Affairs] Minister to Moscow to sign an agreement of the benefit of the nuclear alliance between Zambia and Moscow. Their offices are situated just along the airport road. So Zambia has a lot with Moscow.”

Kalaba said Zambia has had a good alliance with Moscow since its independence.

“That is why I am saying there must have been something which must have necessitated them to do that and we are yet to hear the facts. As for ramifications or effects of the decision, I do not know whether the Russians will take Zambia’s voting that way very seriously and impose their own restrictions with us or it will strain our relationship. We are yet to see because they are the ones who are going to react. So we must just wait to see how they will react,” said Kalaba.