Putin to visit Saudi Arabia, UAE with Israel-Hamas war on agenda

Talks expected to focus on Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and oil market cooperation, says Kremlin spokesperson.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, staking out a more influential role in the Middle East, will visit the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, and host Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Moscow the following day.

The talks will focus on bilateral relations and the Israel-Hamas war, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

Peskov said that discussions on oil market cooperation will be on the agenda of talks, as Moscow cooperates with all three countries through OPEC+, which is comprised of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies led by Russia.

“These discussions are held within the OPEC+ format, but of course, cooperation in this area is always on the agenda,” said Peskov.

The OPEC+ group, which Putin helped create in 2016, announced new voluntary supply cuts last week, which met scepticism from the oil market.

Separately, Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov said that Saudi-Russian cooperation within the oil cooperation body was “fruitful”.

“Fairly close Russian-Saudi coordination in this format is a reliable guarantee of maintaining a stable and predictable situation in the global oil market,” Ushakov said, according to Russian news agencies.

Putin’s drive to bolster its ties with Gulf and other Middle Eastern states is part of his efforts to demonstrate that Western attempts to isolate Moscow through sanctions for its war on Ukraine have failed.

The Russian leader has not made many international trips after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him in March, accusing Putin of deporting Ukrainian children.

Neither the UAE nor Saudi Arabia have signed the ICC’s founding treaty, meaning they would not have to arrest him if he entered their territories.

With regards to Israel’s current bombardment of Gaza in retaliation for Hamas’s October 7 attacks, Putin has sought to cast the war as a failure of U.S. diplomacy, charging that Washington had opted for economic “handouts” to the Palestinians and abandoned efforts to help create a Palestinian state.

He has suggested Moscow could play the role of mediator, thanks to its friendly ties with both Israel and the Palestinians, saying that “no one could suspect us of playing up to one party.”

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