Breaking! Ukraine President Zelensky Makes Surprise Visit To Saudi Arabia
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made a surprise trip to Saudi Arabia, where the Arab League is hosting a summit.
“Beginning my first-ever visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to enhance bilateral relations and Ukraine’s ties with the Arab world,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter on Friday.
He said he would discuss “political prisoners in Crimea and temporarily occupied territories, the return of our people, peace formula [and] energy cooperation”.
Saudi Arabia “plays a significant role and we are ready to take our cooperation to a new level”, Zelenskyy added.
Zelenskyy treads new ground
The Ukrainian president has visited a number of countries since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of the country on February last year.
However, his visits have been largely confined to staunch allies, including several European Union states, the United Kingdom and the United States. He will also travel to Japan over the weekend to attend the G7 meeting.
His visit to Saudi Arabia marks a clear deviation from this strategy as Ukraine looks to drum up support among countries that have resisted public condemnation of Russia’s actions.
Arab states have remained largely neutral over Russia’s war on Ukraine, with many maintaining close ties to Moscow.
Saudi Arabia has maintained good relations with Russia and the two countries have co-operated on oil production cuts through Opec+, the Saudi-led oil producers’ alliance.
The Saudis have even offered to mediate between Ukraine and Russia following a prisoner exchange deal they brokered last year.
Saudi Arabia also pledged $400m in aid to Ukraine earlier this year and has voted in favour of United Nations resolutions calling on Russia to end its invasion and refrain from annexing Ukrainian territory.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, heavily backed by Russia, and recently allowed to rejoin the Arab League, is also present at the summit.
Al-Assad had been shunned from the group since 2011 after a brutal crackdown on opposition protesters and the subsequent devastating war in Syria.