Putin to Visit Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. on Wednesday

Putin to Visit Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. on Wednesday
Putin to Visit Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. on Wednesday

President Vladimir V. Putin will make a rare trip to the Middle East on Wednesday, the Kremlin announced, saying he would discuss bilateral relations, oil and international affairs in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The trip is part of a flurry of diplomatic meetings the Russia leader will conduct this week; on Thursday in Moscow, Mr. Putin will host President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran, the leader of another key player in the region.

Mr. Putin, who has not traveled beyond China, Iran and the former Soviet states since he launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, will visit both the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia in one day, Dmitri S. Peskov, his spokesman, told journalists during a briefing on Tuesday.

The meetings come as Ukraine tries to shore up Western aid for its war effort, amid signs of eroding support in the United States. President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the U.S. Senate on Tuesday in an attempt to stress the urgency of maintaining American financial and military backing.

Ukraine will be another issue looming over Mr. Putin’s talks, though the Kremlin did not specify it as being on the agenda. Saudi Arabia has attempted to act as a mediator in the war, inviting some 40 countries for a peace conference in August and helping to conduct a successful prisoner exchange last year that included American and British citizens, with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman mediating the release.

Now, there is renewed speculation in Russia about possible peace talks, amid questions over the durability of Western support for Ukraine and as Ukrainian officials acknowledge that this year’s counteroffensive failed to achieve a significant breakthrough.

Citing an unnamed, high-ranking Russian source, Izvestia, a pro-Kremlin daily, reported on Tuesday that Russia would not oppose conducting talks with Ukraine in a European country, such as Hungary. In an interview with RBC, a Russian business daily, Grigory Yavlinsky, a longtime Russian politician who met with Mr. Putin in October, said that he had offered to become an intermediary in such talks.

Mr. Zelensky, who has vowed that Ukraine will keep fighting to liberate its territory, told The Associated Press in an interview last week that he did not yet feel pressure from allies to negotiate with Russia, though “some voices are always heard.”

Shot, a Russian Telegram channel that first reported on Mr. Putin’s travel plans on Monday, said that the president would visit the United Arab Emirates first and then go to Saudi Arabia to meet with Prince Mohammed.

Yuri Ushakov, Mr. Putin’s foreign policy aide, told Shot that the Kremlin considered the talks with Prince Mohammed “very important.”

“I hope these negotiations will be very useful,” he said.

Mr. Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said that Mr. Putin would discuss the war between Israel and Hamas and also possible joint actions to coordinate global oil production to ensure price stability. These joint efforts have contributed to the development of strong ties over the years between Russia and Saudi Arabia and personally between Mr. Putin and Prince Mohammed.

The U.A.E. played a role in Russia’s release of the American basketball player Brittney Griner in a prisoner exchange a year ago. She was delivered from Russian custody on a tarmac at the airport in Abu Dhabi.