Saudi prince’s Ukraine mediation indicators ‘helpful’ Russia ties


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attend the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photograph


By Aziz El Yaakoubi

RIYADH (Reuters) -Saudi Arabia has gained a diplomatic victory by securing freedom for overseas fighters captured in Ukraine, signalling the worth of the crown prince’s alliance with Russia to Western companions in search of to isolate Moscow over the struggle there, analysts say.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may discover that the initiative — deliberately or in any other case — helps take him a step nearer worldwide rehabilitation after the 2018 homicide of Jamal Khashoggi broken his fame, they are saying.

With Prince Mohammed’s mediation, Russia on Wednesday launched 10 foreigners it had captured in Ukraine, together with 5 Britons and two People.

The transfer, apparently made potential by Prince Mohammed’s rigorously nurtured ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, coincided with a prisoner alternate involving 215 Ukrainians and 55 Russians and pro-Moscow Ukrainians that Turkey helped dealer.

Kristian Ulrichsen, a political scientist at Rice College’s Baker Institute in the US, stated the working relationship between Saudi Arabia and Russia seems to have been an important aspect within the selection of middleman.

“By sanctioning this mediation and delivering outcomes, Mohammed bin Salman is ready to current himself as able to taking part in the function of regional statesman in a manner that counters the narrative of the crown prince as an impulsive and disruptive actor,” Ulrichsen stated.

Prince Mohammed’s preliminary picture as a daring reformer was battered by the 2018 homicide of Khashoggi, a Washington Put up columnist, by the hands of Saudi brokers seen as near MbS.

He denies ordering Khashoggi’s killing whereas saying he finally bore accountability because it occurred below his watch.


In remarks to the BBC, Saudi Overseas Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan stated the motivation behind Saudi Arabia’s involvement within the prisoner launch was humanitarian. He denied the Crown Prince had turn out to be concerned to rehabilitate his fame.

“That did not issue into it. I feel that is a really cynical view,” he stated. He added that on the battle itself, the dominion wished to see a negotiated resolution and Riyadh was dedicated to making an attempt to assist safe that final result.

Prince Faisal stated the crown prince had engaged with Putin to work out a prisoner deal since April, when he “understood” the difficulty of the 5 British residents following a go to to the dominion by then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“His Royal Highness was in a position to persuade President Putin that this can be a humanitarian gesture that’s worthwhile, and that is how we achieved this consequence,” Prince Faisal advised Fox Information.

The freed prisoners, who additionally included a Croatian, a Moroccan, and a Swedish nationwide, have been flown to Riyadh on a Saudi aircraft the place officers lined as much as greet them.

U.S. residents Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, each from Alabama, are anticipated to go away Saudi Arabia inside days, officers stated.

The significance of the dominion, the world’s largest oil exporter, to each Washington and Moscow has grown at a time when Russia’s struggle in Ukraine is roiling world power markets.

World leaders have beat a path to Riyadh to ask for extra oil manufacturing. However Saudi Arabia has proven little readiness to affix the trouble to isolate Russia. It has stepped up its cooperation with Putin, together with inside the OPEC+ oil producers group.


A go to in July by U.S. President Joe Biden did not safe commitments from the Saudis for a right away oil output rise or a harsher stance in opposition to Putin, highlighting the tensions weighing on the connection between Washington and Riyadh.

Ali Shihabi, a pro-government commentator, stated the Saudi mediation within the prisoners’ launch “was a primary”.

“I feel the dominion was messaging the West that its ties to Russia may also serve a helpful objective for them,” stated Shihabi.

“You want some international locations to take care of ties to either side.”

A Western diplomat stated the prisoners’ deal had been months within the making, however a lot of the diplomatic group within the Gulf heard about it solely on the final stage.

U.S. Nationwide Safety Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and British Prime Minister Liz Truss thanked the Saudi crown prince for his function.

Kristin Diwan, senior resident scholar on the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, stated it was uncommon for Saudi Arabia to deploy the technique of diplomatic brokerage — one thing nicely established for smaller Gulf states resembling Qatar to leverage their ties.

“It is like alchemy – he (Prince Mohammed) is popping his much-criticized ties with Russia into gold,” Diwan stated.

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