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Russian interior minister visits Saudi Arabia in Zelenskyy's wake

The Ukrainian president criticized the Russian invasion during his surprise trip to Saudi Arabia to attend the Arab League summit.
Russia's Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev arrives to attend an expanded meeting of the Russian Defence Ministry Board at the National Defence Control Centre in Moscow, on December 21, 2022. - Russian President described today the conflict in Ukraine as a "shared tragedy" but placed blame for the outbreak of hostilities on Ukraine and its allies, not Moscow. (Photo by Sergey Fadeichev / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by SERGEY FADEICHEV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

The Russian and Saudi interior ministers met in Riyadh on Tuesday. The meeting follows Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelenskyy visiting Saudi Arabia last week as the kingdom seeks to maintain friendly relations with both Ukraine and Russia.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz hosted his Russian counterpart Vladimir Kolokoltsev. The two discussed ways of enhancing security cooperation between their respective ministries. The Russian ambassador in Riyadh and Saudi security and military officials were present during the meeting, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Why it matters: The timing of Kolokoltsev’s trip to Saudi Arabia is noteworthy due to its proximity to the Ukrainian leader’s visit. On Friday, Zelenskyy attended the Arab League summit in the Saudi city of Jeddah. The trip was Zelenskyy’s first to Saudi Arabia, and he tweeted that enhancing ties with the Arab world and discussing the war with Russia were his priorities.

In his speech at the summit, Zelenskyy thanked Saudi Arabia for helping mediate the release of Ukrainian soldiers from Russian detention last September. He also criticized unnamed regional states of “turning a blind eye” to Russia’s invasion.

Know more: Saudi Arabia, though traditionally aligned with the United States, is improving its relations with Russia. The two cooperate on oil production matters via the OPEC+ alliance. At the same time, the kingdom also maintains friendly relations with Ukraine. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal visited Ukraine in February and Russia a month later. After the latter meeting, he offered to mediate between the two warring eastern European states.

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