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SMi News Blog

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Zelensky shames Arab leaders


May 20, 2023

The Ukrainian president claimed some of them were “turning a blind eye” to Moscow’s actions

Some Arab leaders are ignoring Russia’s “illegal” conduct in Ukraine, President Vladimir Zelensky said during the Arab League summit on Friday. He made the statement while attending the gathering in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in person. 

Without mentioning anyone by name, Zelensky acknowledged that some attendees “have a different view on the war on our land.”

“Unfortunately, there are some in the world and here, among you, who turn a blind eye to [prisoner of war] cages and illegal annexations,” the president said. “I am here so that everyone can take an honest look. No matter how hard the Russians try to influence [others], there must still be independence.” 

Unlike many Western countries, the Arab states have refused to impose sanctions on Moscow over the military operation it launched in the neighboring state in February 2022. Oil-rich nations of the Persian Gulf worked with Moscow through OPEC+ to enact coordinated production cuts, prompting criticism from Washington that is seeking to curtail Russia’s oil exports. 

Speaking on Friday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that Riyadh sees itself as a potential broker for peace. “We reaffirm the kingdom’s readiness to continue mediating efforts between Russia and Ukraine, and to support all international efforts aimed at resolving the crisis politically in a way that contributes to achieving security,” the crown price said, as cited by Al Jazeera. 

Last year, Saudi Arabia and the UAE helped to negotiate a high-profile prisoner exchange between Kiev and Moscow.

Bin Salman spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone last month. During a “friendly and constructive” conversation, the leaders agreed to bolster relations between the two countries, the Kremlin said.