Russian President Vladimir Putin embarked on a rare international trip, visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.
The visit comes amid increasing isolation following an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March, accusing Putin of war crimes related to the conflicts in Ukraine.
The UAE, currently hosting the COP28 UN climate summit, became the stage for discussions between Putin and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The agenda included topics such as the wars in Gaza and Ukraine, oil production, and enhancing bilateral relations.
The ICC’s accusations of Putin’s involvement in the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children were brushed aside, as neither the UAE nor Saudi Arabia recognizes the court’s jurisdiction.
Putin’s reception in the UAE was grand, featuring a full cavalry escort, a motorcade, and an aerial acrobatics display forming the Russian flag.
Describing the relations between Russia and the UAE as reaching “unprecedented levels,” Putin highlighted the economic partnership between the two nations.
Trade and oil took centre stage in discussions with the UAE, identified by the Kremlin as “Russia’s main economic partner in the Arab world.”
Putin’s visit to Saudi Arabia included a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, where they discussed regional events and the importance of information exchange.
Inviting the crown prince to Moscow during a televised chat, Putin emphasized the unwavering development of friendly relations despite Russia’s diplomatic challenges.
The crown prince reciprocated, acknowledging that bilateral cooperation had contributed to alleviating tensions in the Middle East.
Notably, the controversial leader of Russia’s Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, was present at the meeting, raising eyebrows about Russia’s regional influence.
Ahead of the discussions, the Kremlin announced the leaders’ intent to explore ways to de-escalate the conflict between Israel and Hamas and address conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and Sudan.
Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed discussions on OPEC+ cooperation between Putin and the crown prince, reflecting the significance of energy cooperation in the region.
The Kremlin also revealed plans for Putin to meet Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi to discuss the ongoing conflict in Gaza, showcasing Russia’s active role in mediating regional disputes.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Putin has primarily confined his travels to Russian-occupied Ukraine, Iran, and China, making this Middle East tour a departure from recent diplomatic trends.
As Russia seeks to project influence and counter Western attempts at isolation, Putin’s visit to the Middle East signals a bold diplomatic move with potential implications for the ongoing geopolitical landscape.
The outcomes of these discussions could shape regional dynamics and Russia’s role in addressing pressing issues in the Middle East.
This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members