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Friday, February 16, 2024

Russian fighter jets accompanied Putin as he landed in UAE

These trips mark his first to the Middle East since the onset of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022.

Russian fighter jets accompanied Putin as he landed in UAE

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin embarked on a rare trip to the Middle East, accompanied by four Russian fighter jets. The visit includes discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on topics such as oil production and OPEC+. The meeting follows a decline in oil prices despite OPEC+ commitments to further reduce output.

President Putin’s plane was escorted by Sukhoi-35S fighter jets from Russia to the United Arab Emirates, where he has arrived for “working visits.” These trips mark his first to the Middle East since the onset of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022.

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, significant trade partners for Russia, have maintained a neutral stance in the Ukraine conflict, refraining from endorsing Western-led sanctions against Russia. Putin’s visits underscore the strategic importance of the oil-rich Gulf Arab states to the Kremlin’s global relations.

In Abu Dhabi, President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan welcomed Putin, emphasizing the strong relations between the two countries. Putin highlighted the UAE’s role as Russia’s primary trading partner in the Arab world and discussed collaboration within OPEC+, where member countries contribute over 40% of global oil production. The talks are expected to cover the Israeli-Hamas conflict and the situation in Ukraine.

A tour of much importance

Following his UAE visit, Putin is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia for a face-to-face meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, their first since October 2019. The leaders, who collectively control a significant portion of daily oil production, have maintained close ties despite occasional Western ostracization.

At a G20 summit in 2018, shortly after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Putin and MbS demonstrated amicable gestures, reflecting their enduring relationship. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pursued a more assertive regional role for Saudi Arabia, with less dependence on the United States. Putin, amid Western efforts to isolate Moscow following the Ukraine intervention, considers Russia engaged in an existential battle with the West, leading him to cultivate alliances across the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Asia.