Why did Putin fly to Arabia?

Accompanied by four Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and welcomed with great fanfare, the Russian President arrived in Abu Dhabi, the first stop of the mini tour that lasted less than 24 hours, including Saudi Arabia. This trip surprised many, considering that the Kremlin leader had only left his homeland for the former Soviet republics since the start of the war in Ukraine, especially considering that an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court was pending. Chinese. During the visit to the two Arab countries, the conflict between Israel and Hamas and commercial relations, especially oil, were on the agenda. However, according to international observers, Putin wants to show Russians and the world that he is not alone on the international stage with his unexpected visit. And maybe we can send a message to Kiev and Washington, too.

Both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia remained neutral towards the Ukraine conflict. “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, developed personal relations with Putin and presented themselves as interlocutors between Russia and the West,” Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera recalls. The Kremlin leader knows that Ukraine’s partners, from the United States to the European Union, are hesitant in their support for Kiev: new aid has been blocked, and there are those in Western governments who believe it is time to bring the two candidates together. a negotiating table. In this sense, Putin’s words to the ambassadors of 21 foreign countries in Russia, including Germany and England, were not surprising: Moscow “has no hostile intentions towards anyone” and is “open to constructive partnership with all countries”. said.

At the Emirates, the Russian president is playing virtually at home. Abu Dhabi”He reminded that Russia is the main trading partner in the Middle East and the Gulf region and the “largest investor in the Russian economy” Al Nahyan is meeting with Putin. The United Arab Emirates has also exposed itself enough to allow Russian oil tankers to bypass Western sanctions on crude oil; So much so that last month, the USA imposed sanctions on three Abu Dhabi shipowners.

Relations with Saudi Arabia are also solid, especially regarding oil. The two countries are leaders of the exporters’ organization OPEC+, whose members last week decided on a voluntary cut of support prices totaling 2.2 million barrels per day in the first quarter of 2024 (one million in Riyadh and 500,000 in Moscow alone). . The agreement between Moscow and Riyadh allowed Russia to minimize the losses the West hoped to inflict through an embargo and price ceiling on Russian crude oil. A recent survey showed that Russia’s Urals oil is currently selling for around $70 per barrel, compared to the $60 limit.

However, Putin has another open front that extends to Iran along with Riyadh. Tehran and Riyadh have long been rivals in the region, but this year they signed a China-brokered deal to restore diplomatic relations. The Russian leader wants to consolidate this agreement as much as possible by focusing on excellent relations with Iran, which did not forget to support him with military equipment such as unmanned aerial vehicles during the war in Ukraine. It is no coincidence that Putin hosted Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi after returning to Moscow.

In this diplomatic puzzle, the conflict in the Middle East cannot be overlooked. The Russian President wants to position himself as a mediating force between Israel and Palestine, focusing on his historically good relations with both sides. The reception of a Hamas delegation in recent days infuriated Tel Aviv, but Putin still hopes to establish himself as a central player in restoring peace in the region.

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Source: Today IT