His airplane flanked by 4 fighter jets, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia started a uncommon journey on Wednesday to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, two oil-rich Gulf nations which have resisted strain to take sides within the Ukraine battle.
Mr. Putin stated his talks within the area would contact on worldwide crises, primarily Israel’s two-month-old battle with Hamas — a battle that has performed into his geopolitical goals by distracting Western leaders from the battle in Ukraine.
The Emirati president, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, referred to as Mr. Putin his “dear friend,” in the beginning of their talks, whereas the Russian chief praised the connection between the 2 international locations.
“Without doubt, I will inform you about the situation with the Ukrainian crisis,” Mr. Putin instructed the Emirati chief in televised remarks.
Upon arrival within the Emirati capital, Abu Dhabi, Mr. Putin was greeted with pomp: His limousine drove by means of the grounds of a sprawling palace flanked by camels and Arabian horses whose riders held Russian flags. Jets trailed the Russian tricolor within the sky and Mr. Putin was additionally welcomed with a 21-gun salute, the Emirati state news company reported.
Among the Emirati officers within the delegation that obtained the Russian chief was Sultan Al Jaber, the top of Abu Dhabi’s state oil firm and the president of COP28, the United Nations local weather summit which is at present underway within the neighboring emirate of Dubai, in accordance with the state news company.
Mr. Putin’s journey, introduced unexpectedly by the Kremlin on Tuesday, got here amid indicators of eroding help within the United States for Ukraine, which is frantically making an attempt to safe extra Western support for its effort to drive Russian forces from its territory.
Before his go to to Abu Dhabi, Mr. Putin had not traveled past China, Iran and the previous Soviet states since he launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
By late Wednesday afternoon, he had left the Emirates for Saudi Arabia and talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto chief of the dominion.
A outstanding Emirati political scientist, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, downplayed the importance of Mr. Putin’s go to for the Emirates, describing it as “symbolic.”
Mr. Abdulla stated that the Russian chief “has very few friends,” whereas the Emirates “wants to be a friend of everybody.”
In latest years, the Emirates has designed its overseas coverage round hedging towards its dependency on the United States.
The Emirati chief has traveled to Russia twice over the previous two years, and his nation was celebrated because the visitor of honor at Mr. Putin’s flagship funding discussion board in June.
The Saudi crown prince additionally has maintained shut hyperlinks to Mr. Putin for the reason that invasion of Ukraine regardless of strain from Western powers to isolate Russia. He has positioned himself as a possible mediator within the battle.
Mr. Putin’s talks within the Middle East had been the primary in a collection of diplomatic conferences deliberate for this week. On Thursday in Moscow, the Russian chief will host President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran, the chief of one other key participant within the area.
The outbreak of the battle in Gaza has diverted consideration away from Ukraine and allowed the Kremlin to draw the sympathy of individuals in lots of creating international locations the place help for the Palestinian trigger is widespread.
Mr. Putin condemned the Oct. 7 assault on Israel by Hamas, the armed group that guidelines Gaza, which killed 1,200 individuals, in accordance with the Israeli authorities. He referred to as it a terrorist act and tried to protect working ties with Israel whereas additionally arguing that the dominance of Western elites allowed for the disaster to occur within the first place.
Grief and anger have unfold in Arab international locations for the reason that Israeli navy responded to the Hamas assault by bombarding and invading Gaza, the place greater than 2 million Palestinians reside.
The assault has killed greater than 16,000 individuals in Gaza — a bombing marketing campaign of an depth that has few precedents on this century. In protests throughout the Middle East, individuals have expressed fury not solely at Israel but in addition on the United States, Israel’s fundamental worldwide backer.
“We’ve seen anti-Americanism at an all-time high,” stated Mr. Abdulla, the Emirati political scientist.
But it’s unclear how a lot Mr. Putin will be capable to acquire from that, although.
Mr. Abdulla stated that regardless of the anger on the United States, one of many fundamental messages Arab states had obtained for the reason that battle was that “America is back” — militarily and politically — after a protracted interval throughout which regional leaders apprehensive that U.S. curiosity of their area was waning.
“There is very little that Putin can bring to the situation in Gaza,” Mr. Abdulla stated, describing Russia as “irrelevant” to that battle, through which the United States has been the dominant worldwide participant.