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Putin meets Saudi crown prince during his Gulf visit

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 6, 2023 11:23 PM 2 min read
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Dec. 6, 2023. (Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry/X)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Dec. 6 as the second part of his trip to the Gulf states, which also included the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Russia has close economic ties to both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which have strengthened following the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine and Russia's subsequent economic isolation from much of the West.

In a televised meeting with the crown prince, Putin lauded relations between the two countries, saying that "nothing can prevent the development of our friendly ties."

The Russian leader thanked bin Salman for the invitation and added that he had originally expected the crown prince to come to Moscow, "but plans changed."

Their talks are expected to concern the Israel-Gaza war and cooperation between these two oil-exporting countries within the OPEC+ group, Reuters wrote.

The visit to the UAE and Saudi Arabia was Putin's first trip to the region since 2019. The Russian leader has only made a few trips abroad in 2023 after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant in March for his role in the deportations of Ukrainian children.

Despite Moscow's ties to Riyadh, Ukraine has also maintained good relations with the Gulf country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to Saudi Arabia for the first time in May, meeting the crown prince and appealing to Arab leaders to support Ukraine's peace plan.

Since Saudi Arabia hosted a summit on Ukraine's 10-point peace formula in August, Zelensky has held a call with the crown prince on a near-monthly basis.

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