Russia’s Putin is visiting the UAE and Saudi Arabia, seeking to bolster Moscow’s Mideast clout

Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Saudi Arabia and UAE, host of COP28 climate talks

By Jon Gambrell The Associated Press |

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in a lightning tour intended to raise Moscow’s profile as a Middle East power broker, even as his war in Ukraine grinds on.

Putin landed in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Emirates, that is hosting the United Nations’ COP28 climate talks. It was his first trip to the region since before the coronavirus pandemic and the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking at the start of his talks with UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Putin offered to discuss energy cooperation, the conflict in the Middle East and the “Ukrainian crisis.” He praised the current state of Russia’s relations with the UAE and congratulated the country for hosting the COP28 climate talks.

Putin, who has limited his foreign travel since sending troops into invade Ukraine, visited China in October and made several trips to former Soviet nations in recent months. He faces an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court over the war in Ukraine.

Neither the UAE nor Saudi Arabia has signed the ICC founding treaty, meaning they don’t face an obligation to detain Putin over the warrant accusing him of being personally responsible for the abductions of children from Ukraine during the war. Putin skipped a summit in South Africa amid speculation he could be arrested on arrival.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s foreign minister, met a smiling Putin after he bounded down the stairs of his presidential plane. Four Su-35 fighter jets had escorted it all the way from Russia, landing at Abu Dhabi’s commercial airport, since Al-Dhafra Air Base is a major U.S. military hub in the region.

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