Ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other G7 leaders in Hiroshima on Saturday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday reached Saudi Arabia for the 32nd Arab League summit.
“To host and listen to the Ukraine President Zelensky at the Jeddah Arab League Summit might be a small price for Saudi Arabia to pay for maintaining its strategic autonomy,” Md. Muddassir Quamar, Associate Professor, Centre for West Asian Studies, School of International Studies, JNU tells Financial Express Online.
In his first ever visit to Saudi Arabia the Ukraine President took to the social media to announce that the focus of his visit is on bilateral relations with the Kingdom and the Arab world. On his arrival he was welcomed by the top leadership of Saudi Arabia as he stepped off a French government plane that flew him from Poland. Besides addressing the Arab world leaders in English and urging them to save people from Russia, President Zelensky met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Reports in the public domain indicate that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had last year mediated in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, especially with the release of prisoners of war who were captured by Russia.
According to Prof Muddassir Quamar, “Zelensky’s attendance at the Arab League summit in Jeddah could be a way to reach out to Riyadh and other Arab Gulf capitals who have been lukewarm in extending any support to Kiev despite US and European pressure mainly because of their strong relations with Russia, especially in the international energy market through OPEC+.”
However, “At this stage it is difficult to suggest if this can change the attitude of the Arab powers who have remained neutral and have avoided isolating Russia unlike the Western powers,” Prof Muddassir Quamar states.
The Ukraine president has been traveling across Europe to many countries –France, Italy, Germany, the UK seeking support in the form of military aid to fight back the Russian attack. His visit to Japan will be the first in Asia since the Russia-Ukraine war which started last year and in Hiroshima he will address the G7 leaders.
According to reports, Anatolii Petrenko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia has termed Zelensky’s visit to Saudi Arabia as a milestone in Ukrainian-Arab relations. Adding, that the Global South and Ukraine are working together to deal with regional and global issues.