As Putin is isolated by much of the world, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with the Russian president and praised the relationship.
The president of the United Arab Emirates met Vladimir Putin in Russia, a rare international visit to the country at war with Ukraine.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan traveled to Putin’s hometown of St. Petersburg and discussed the conflict, calling for stronger diplomatic ties on the sidelines of an economic forum.
“I’m glad to be here with you today, and we want to build this relationship, and we trust you to do that,” Mohammed told Putin.
The UAE is among the few countries trying to maintain an openly neutral stance toward Russia, which has imposed sanctions on most of the Western world and condemned the Kremlin chief for ordering an invasion of Ukraine as early as 2022.
In carefully worded comments, Mohammed said the UAE wanted to help facilitate peace and favored “de-escalation” and a “political solution”, according to UAE state news agency WAM.
“The UAE continues to support all efforts to reach a political solution through dialogue and diplomacy – world peace and stability,” he tweeted after the meeting.
Today I met with President Putin in St. Petersburg to discuss bilateral relations between the UAE and Russia and the situation in Ukraine. The UAE continues to support all efforts aimed at reaching a political solution through negotiation and diplomacy – towards world peace and stability. pic.twitter.com/LSPG50HRXV
— Mohammed bin Zayed (@Mohammed Binzayed) June 16, 2023
Putin thanked Russia’s “very good partner” for its role in facilitating the prisoner exchange.
The UAE has tried to avoid taking sides publicly in the war, saying it wants to prevent further violence and instead encourage diplomatic action.
Abu Dhabi has not joined Western sanctions on Russia and is one of the few states to operate direct flights to Moscow.
Russian tycoons avoiding sanctions have also found a safe haven in the UAE.
Russian oligarchs are counting on the oil-rich nation to keep their bank accounts and wealth in their hands.
The Gulf nation has long been an ally of the United States, but its stance on the crisis has signaled an attempt to balance relations under a new world order in which Moscow and Beijing are equally important, analysts said.
The two countries also cooperate as members of the OPEC+ oil alliance.
Additionally, a November 2020 report issued by the US Department of Defense’s Inspector General for Counter-Terrorism Operations in Africa found that the UAE was suspected of being an important source of funding for Russia’s Wagner mercenary group in Libya. The UAE denied the claim.