Isolated Putin visits UAE and Saudi Arabia as rest of world discusses climate action at Cop28

Russian president set for rare trip overseas since his arrest warrant over Ukraine war crimes

Arpan Rai
Tuesday 05 December 2023 11:54 GMT
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Vladimir Putin is reportedly set to travel this week to meet with oil-producing allies Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in a trip that serves to highlight the Russian president’s international isolation over his war against Ukraine.

Just days after more than 100 world leaders walked together down the flag-lined boulevard at Cop28 in Dubai for a “family photo” at the start of crucial UN climate talks, the absent Russian president will instead make his own “working visit” to the UAE.

That will then be followed by a visit to Saudi Arabia, where Mr Putin will sit down for negotiation mainly with crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov.

“I hope that these will be very useful negotiations, which we consider extremely important,” Mr Ushakov told Russian news oulet Shot, without sharing further details of the agenda for the talks.

The visits come at a time of active discussions in the region among the OPEC group – the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries – and oil policy talks will likely be a key part of Mr Putin’s conversations. At the same time, at Cop28, world leaders and their representatives will be thrashing out a deal to phase out the use of fossil fuels.

This will be a rare trip overseas by the Russian president since he launched his full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. He last visited China in October where he met his staunch ally and counterpart Xi Jinping, and took a brief trip to Kazakhstan in early November.

Other than those trips, Mr Putin has largely avoid leaving Russia since he was issued an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March over charges of forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia, which would be a war crime.

ICC signatory nations in Europe like Germany have said that if the Russian president stepped foot on their soil, they would be obliged to arrest him.

Russia is not a member of the ICC, and nor are Saudi Arabia or the UAE.

The visits also come after the OPEC+ group last week agreed to voluntary output cuts totalling about 2.2 million barrels a day. Oil prices fell 2 per cent last week after the announcement, and declined further on Monday.

The figure of 2.2 million bpd included an extension of existing Saudi and Russian voluntary cuts of 1.3 million bpd.

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