Zelensky Makes Brief Visit to Saudi Arabia Seeking MBS Support for ‘Peace Formula’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy paid a brief visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, where he received a warm welcome from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and held what Zelenskiy called a “frank and meaningful dialogue.”

The Saudi Foreign Ministry on Tuesday released a trove of photos of the crown prince welcoming President Zelenskiy and his delegation, shaking hands and smiling together.

There were no notable comments regarding the content of the exchange.

saudi news agency offered During the meeting, the crown prince said he “affirmed Saudi Arabia’s enthusiasm and support for all international efforts and efforts aimed at resolving the Ukraine-Russia crisis.”

President Zelenskiy published several posts on social media explaining his visit and thanking his hosts for their hospitality.

“I had a meaningful and candid conversation with His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” he said in a message published on Twitter. “We discussed the key points of the peace formula and possible progress in implementing it. Saudi leadership will help find a fair solution.”

Ukraine has introduced a plan to end Russian aggression at the end of 2022, calling it the “Peace Equation.” The plan consists of a complete embargo on trade with Russia by nearly every country in the world and the creation of a special court system to try Russians accused of war crimes in Ukraine. and plans for the “security” of Ukraine after the end of hostilities.

President Zelenskiy said in a statement during his visit to Saudi Arabia that he would promote the plan again at the upcoming World Peace Summit in Switzerland.he claimed that Ukraine said it received “continued active support” from Saudi Arabia on the issue of the “peace summit”.

In this photo provided by the Saudi news agency SPA, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky arrives at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, February 27, 2024. (Saudi News Agency, via AP)

Saudi Arabia and Ukraine also reportedly discussed the possibility of Riyadh brokering further prisoner exchanges with Russia, according to Ukrainian state television. Ukrin form.

President Zelenskiy added that in addition to the subject of war with Russia, he and Mohammed bin Salman “considered concrete opportunities for economic and technical cooperation between Ukraine and Saudi Arabia.”

Since strongman President Vladimir Putin announced a full-scale military operation to oust Zelenskiy in February 2022, Saudi Arabia has remained nominally neutral toward Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Riyadh, which prioritizes business ties with Russia, particularly in the oil sector, has repeatedly welcomed President Zelenskiy. He also mediated the exchange of prisoners between the two countries.

While Saudi Arabia is one of Russia’s biggest oil customers, it provides hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, sells Russian crude at a lower price domestically, and sells Saudi oil at a markup abroad. are doing.

Saudi Arabia also hosted a large-scale “peace summit” for Ukraine in August, inviting more than 40 countries, but it is notable that no Russian representative attended.

Mohammed bin Salman welcomed President Putin to his homeland in December, according to reports. met On Monday, he met with the speaker of Russia’s parliament before greeting Zelenskiy. In December, the crown prince declared Putin, whose travel is restricted under an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for war crimes in Ukraine, a “valued guest.”

In this photo provided by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right) meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the Royal Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday, February 27, 2024. (Bandar Al-Jaroud/Saudi Royal Palace) via AP)

Saudi Arabia also applied to join Russia in the China-led BRICS geopolitical alliance and received an invitation to join in January. President Mohammed bin Salman has personally attended BRICS events, but fellow BRICS member South Africa’s government said this week that Saudi Arabia has not formally recognized its membership and could withdraw at any time. revealed a somewhat surprising fact.

“Saudi Arabia is still going through its own process,” South Africa’s ambassador to Russia Mzubukile Geoff Maketka told Russian News Agency. Tas. “One as a nation-state. Second, with the shepherds of the BRICS. Saudi Arabia doesn’t support it yet, it doesn’t support it yet.”

The Saudi government’s closeness to Russia has drawn the ire of some Western countries, most notably the left-wing administration of U.S. President Joe Biden. In October 2022, the Biden administration issued a sharp statement accusing the Saudi government of supporting production cuts by the OPEC+ oil cartel, which includes Russia, and accusing Riyadh of supporting the invasion of Ukraine.

“It’s clear that OPEC+ is aligning with Russia with today’s announcement,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said after the production cuts were announced in early October. White House Press Secretary John Kirby said Biden is working to “reassess” the U.S.-Saudi relationship in the wake of the oil cuts.

President Zelensky personally intervened to protect the kingdom, calling the crown prince and issuing a statement that read in part: [Mohammed bin Salman] For supporting the United Nations General Assembly resolution on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. ”

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