DOJ files war crime charges; Russia reasserts its influence as Putin meets allies in Middle East

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the opening of the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2018. Sergio Moraes | Reuters
Published December 7, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin is making a rare trip abroad Wednesday as he meets with allies in the Middle East. His talks with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will focus on increasing bilateral cooperation and the war between Israel and Hamas.

Russia’s visit to the Middle East sees it reasserting its diplomatic clout in the region, with Moscow occupying the rare position of being allies with regional arch-rivals, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as surrounding countries such as Syria, Iraq, the UAE and Qatar.

Russia had also enjoyed cordial relations with Israel but has become increasingly critical of the conflict in Gaza as the humanitarian crisis has worsened.

While Russia is strengthening its ties, Ukraine’s are looking shakier than ever amid continuing wrangling over future funding of the country, particularly in the U.S.



RELATED: Putin makes rare foreign visit to UAE as Ukraine war grinds on

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Abu Dhabi for talks with his UAE counterpart Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, December 6, 2023.
Published December 6, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin said relations with the United Arab Emirates were at an all-time high during his first visit to the Middle East since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago.

Putin praised cooperation between the two countries as he met President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi Wednesday, describing the UAE as “Russia’s main trading partner in the Arab world.”

He is later scheduled to visit Riyadh to meet Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), as part of a whistlestop tour in which Moscow hopes to flaunt and continue to foster its close ties with Gulf states as wars rage in the Middle East and Europe.

The visit marked a rare foreign trip for Putin since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for his arrest for alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have not ratified the ICC’s Rome Statute and so are not obliged to arrest the Russian president.

The ICC’s arrest warrant has placed significant restrictions on Putin’s ability to travel internationally. He did not attend in person the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in August, since South Africa is a signatory to the Rome Statute.




Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, receives Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, during a state visit reception, at Qasr Al Watan, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, December 6, 2023. Hamad Al Kaabi/UAE Presidential Court/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY
Published December 6, 2023

MOSCOW, Russia – President Vladimir Putin was escorted to the Middle East by four Russian fighter jets on Wednesday, December 6, for a rare trip abroad, during which he will discuss oil, Gaza and Ukraine with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Putin’s meeting with the prince known as MbS comes after oil prices fell despite a pledge by OPEC+, which groups the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies led by Russia, to further cut output.

The Kremlin chief’s plane was flanked by Sukhoi-35S fighter jets, which the defense ministry showed flying beside his Ilyushin-96 aircraft from Russia to the United Arab Emirates.

In Abu Dhabi, President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan welcomed his “dear friend” and UAE jets greeted the Kremlin chief with a fly-past trailing the colors of Russia’s flag.





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