Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy recently attended a significant summit of the Arab League held in Saudi Arabia. The purpose of his presence was to seek support for Ukraine and its people in the ongoing conflict with Russia. During the summit, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed his willingness to mediate in the war between Moscow and Kyiv, signaling a potential diplomatic avenue for resolution. The gathering also marked a significant moment as Arab leaders warmly welcomed the return of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, who has received substantial backing from Russia throughout the country’s prolonged civil war. This marked the end of a decade of isolation for al-Assad.
In his opening speech, Crown Prince Mohammed emphasized the readiness of Saudi Arabia to continue its mediation efforts between Russia and Ukraine. The kingdom expressed its commitment to supporting international initiatives aimed at resolving the crisis through political means. The Crown Prince has previously played a role in mediating the conflict, showcasing his experience and commitment to facilitating peace.
President Zelenskiy took the opportunity to express his gratitude to Saudi Arabia for its past assistance and support. He also shared the text of his 10-point peace plan with the delegates at the summit, aiming to garner direct cooperation with Ukraine without the need for intermediaries. Despite the pressure from Western nations on Gulf oil producers to isolate Russia, the Gulf states have thus far attempted to maintain neutrality in the Ukraine conflict.
During his address, Zelenskiy criticized certain countries, including some members of the Arab League, for disregarding Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory and the unjust imprisonment of Ukrainians throughout the 15-month war. He called for unity among nations in the mission to rescue individuals from Russian prisons, emphasizing the humanitarian aspect of the conflict.
The close ties between Crown Prince Mohammed and Russian President Vladimir Putin have previously led to a diplomatic success when they facilitated the release of 10 foreigners who were captured by Russia in Ukraine. President Zelenskiy expressed his desire to further enhance cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Ukraine, highlighting the potential for strengthened ties and collaboration.
Saudi Arabia has faced criticism from the United States due to an OPEC+ decision to reduce oil production. This move was seen as favoring Russia by boosting oil prices and replenishing its financial resources. However, as the dynamics of the global energy market have unfolded amidst Russia’s war on Ukraine, the production cuts have proven to be a prudent decision. The role of Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil exporter has become increasingly crucial for both Washington and Moscow.
President Zelenskiy’s presence at the Arab League summit and his efforts to garner support for Ukraine highlight the international dimension of the conflict. It underscores the importance of diplomatic engagement and collaboration in finding a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis.