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Zelensky arrives in Saudi Arabia, scheduled to meet crown prince
President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on May 19.
As he announced on Telegram, the president is expected to speak at the Arab League summit and to meet the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for bilateral talks.
As priorities of the visit, Zelensky stressed the support for the return of political prisoners and illegally deported people from Crimea and other occupied territories, and protection of the Muslim citizens of Ukraine.
To that account, Ukraine’s president arrived together with Mustafa Dzhemilev, a representative of the predominantly-Muslim Crimean Tatars and the former chair of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis.
Saudi Arabia has previously involved itself as an intermediary between Russia and Ukraine.
Leveraging its good relations with Moscow, Riyadh helped to facilitate the release of 10 foreign-born Ukrainian fighters from Russia’s captivity in September 2022.
Zelensky met the Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud on Feb. 26., after which Saudis confirmed their pledge to provide Ukraine with $100 million of humanitarian aid and $300 of oil products.
Al Saud also added that Saudi Arabia could play a bigger role as a third-party mediator for the release of Ukrainian prisoners.
However, Riyadh’s steps have put the country at odds with Ukraine’s Western partners.
On April 3, Riyadh and other Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) states announced drastic cuts to oil production, ramping up the product’s costs and indirectly aiding Russia.
In response, Washington accused Saudi Arabia of siding with Moscow and threatened with consequences.
Following his visit to Jeddah, Zelensky is expected to fly to Japan for the G7 summit.