Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy arrived in Jeddah on Friday to attend an Arab League conference, where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was extensively backed by Russia throughout his country’s civil war, would also be present.
Zelenskiy arrived on a government jet from France. He is also scheduled to attend the G7 leaders’ conference in Hiroshima, Japan, this weekend.
“Kingdom of Saudi Arabia plays a significant role, and we are ready to take our cooperation to a new level,” he said immediately after arriving.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has mediated in the Russia-Ukraine conflict before.
Last year Prince Mohammed won a diplomatic triumph when he secured the release of 10 foreigners captured by Russia in Ukraine. The move was apparently made possible by his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Gulf states have tried to remain neutral in the Ukraine conflict despite Western pressure on Gulf oil producers to help isolate Russia, a fellow OPEC+ member.
The kingdom faced heavy criticism from the United States over an OPEC+ decision to cut oil production, seen as helping Russia to refill its coffers by boosting prices.
Even though the October decision initially drew heavy criticism from the United States and other Western countries, market dynamics since then have shown the cuts to be prudent.
At a time when Russia’s war on the Ukraine has roiled global energy markets, the role the kingdom plays as the world’s largest oil exporter has grown in importance to both Washington and Moscow.