MOSCOW – Seeking to reassert Russia's role in the Middle East, President Vladimir Putin will make a one-day trip to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to focus on the Israeli-Hamas war and then will host Iran's president in Moscow this week, the Kremlin said Tuesday.
Wednesday's talks in both countries will focus on bilateral relations and the war between Israel and Hamas, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Issues related to oil price caps under OPEC+ will also be on the agenda, he added.
Putin will also hold talks with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in the Kremlin on Thursday, Peskov said in a conference call with reporters.
His visit to Saudi Arabia and the UAE comes at a time when Russia wants to advance its role as a power broker in the conflict in the Middle East.
Putin has sought to cast the war as a failure of U.S. diplomacy, charging that Washington had opted for economic “handouts” to the Palestinians and abandoned efforts to help create a Palestinian state.
He has suggested Moscow could play the role of mediator, thanks to its friendly ties with both Israel and the Palestinians, charging that “no one could suspect us of playing up to one party.”
Putin’s trip was first announced on Monday by his foreign affairs adviser Yuri Ushakov, speaking to the Russian news outlet Life.
Pro-Kremlin analyst Sergei Markov observed that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been important allies for Russia, noting that Moscow has profited from high oil prices thanks to the OPEC+ deal it anchored together with Riyadh. The close ties with the UAE provided one of the avenues for bypassing Western sanctions on Moscow, he added.
Putin visited China in October and made several trips to former Soviet nations in recent months.
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin in March for war crimes, accusing him of personal responsibility for the abductions of children from Ukraine.
Since the warrant was issued, Putin chose not to attend a BRICS summit in South Africa because the country would be obliged to arrest Putin upon arrival as a signatory to the international court’s treaty.
Neither Saudi Arabia nor the UAE have signed the ICC’s founding treaty.
The notice against Putin in March was the first time the global court issued a warrant against a leader of one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. The ICC said in a statement that Putin is accused of the war crime of ” unlawful deportation ″ of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.