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UAE sends aid to Ukraine

The aid is a departure for the Emirates, which has remained neutral on the Russia-Ukraine conflict so far in a reflection of improving UAE-Russia ties.
KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images

The United Arab Emirates announced an aid package to Ukraine today. 

The UAE donated $5 million to the United Nations to be used for its humanitarian and refugee-related response to the war in Ukraine, the Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs said today in a statement. 

“The UAE has underscored the importance of focusing on the deteriorating humanitarian situation for civilians, including by ensuring their protection" and "unimpeded access for humanitarian agencies and actors and safe passage for those seeking to leave the country without discrimination or obstacles,” read the statement. 

Why it matters:  Russia invaded Ukraine last week, leading to civilian casualties, damage to Ukrainian infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes. The conflict is largely about Russia’s concerns that Ukraine will join the Western NATO alliance. 

The Gulf state has been largely neutral on the conflict so far, notably abstaining from voting on a UN resolution last week condemning the Russian invasion.

The UAE position is influenced by its warming relations with the Russian Federation. Trade between the UAE and Russia increased significantly in 2021. Hundreds of thousands of Russian tourists also flocked to Dubai last year. 

The Emirates, along with several Arab states, has increased political and economic ties with Syria over the past year, in part to counter Iranian influence. Last year, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the culmination of UAE efforts to repair the Assad government’s relations with other Arab states

What’s next:  The UAE voted today in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution condemning the Russian invasion and calling for a withdrawal. 

The UAE also suspended visa-free travel for Ukrainians to the Emirates today. 

Update: this article was updated to reflect the UAE's vote on the UN resolution. 

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