In the latest display of its diplomatic influence, Saudi Arabia is set to host talks on the Ukraine war in Jeddah on Saturday.
The official Saudi Press Agency stated that the meeting, attended by national security advisers and other officials, highlights Riyadh’s willingness to use its influence to achieve a permanent peace solution.
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Around 30 countries received invitations, but Russia was notably absent from the guest list, according to diplomats familiar with the preparations.
The talks follow informal discussions organized by Ukraine in Copenhagen in June, which aimed to engage various nations, including members of the BRICS bloc with Russia, in debates about the path towards peace, taking a more neutral stance compared to Western powers.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his appreciation for the diverse representation at the Jeddah talks, noting that developing countries affected by the war’s impact on food prices are also participating.
World’s largest Crude Exporter
Saudi Arabia, being the world’s largest crude exporter and closely collaborating with Russia on oil policy, has positioned itself as a possible mediator in the nearly year and a half-long conflict.
The ongoing energy crisis stemming from the Ukraine war has heightened Saudi Arabia’s global significance.
Looking ahead, Riyadh aims to join the ranks of influential middle powers like India or Brazil to have a greater impact on the world stage.
As Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, failing to capture Kyiv but gaining control of territories, Western-backed Ukrainian troops continue their efforts to recapture them.
China, stating its neutrality in the conflict, faced criticism from Western capitals for not condemning Moscow, but it announced its participation in the Jeddah talks.
India and South Africa also confirmed their attendance, emphasizing their belief in the power of dialogue and diplomacy.
UN Security Council Solutions
Saudi Arabia has backed UN Security Council resolutions condemning Russia’s invasion and unilateral annexation of eastern Ukrainian territory.
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Overall, Riyadh’s approach can be seen as a “classic balancing strategy,” potentially influencing Russia’s response to this weekend’s summit.