Zelenskyy: Some Arab countries 'turning a blind eye' to Russian invasion of Ukraine

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives at Jeddah airport, Saudi Arabia, Friday, May 19, 2023.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives at Jeddah airport, Saudi Arabia, Friday, May 19, 2023. Copyright AP
By Euronews
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The Ukrainian leader is making his first trip to Saudi Arabia, meeting leaders at the Arab League summit in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday that "some" Arab countries were "turning a blind eye" to Russia's invasion of his country.

He made the comments while attending the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia.

"Unfortunately, some countries in the world and here among you are turning a blind eye to these illegal prisons and annexations," he said, calling on regional leaders to "take an honest look" at the war.

Zelenskyy thanked Saudi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his "support for the territorial integrity" of Ukraine, during the first bilateral visit to the country. Zelenskyy also invited bin Salman, whose country recently coordinated its oil policy with Moscow, to pay a return visit to Kyiv. 

In a message posted on Twitter before his arrival in Jeddah, President Zelenskyy said he would also be talking about a peace "formula" and energy cooperation. 

The Ukrainian leader said he would discuss the treatment of Muslim Tatars living under Russian occupation in the Crimean Peninsula. 

Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev accompanied Zelenskyy on the visit.

In recent months, Saudi Arabia has restored diplomatic ties with Iran, is ending the kingdom’s yearlong war against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen and has led the push for Syria’s return to the Arab League.

The Saudis have even offered to mediate between Ukraine and Russia, following a prisoner exchange deal they brokered last year.

Arab states have remained largely neutral over Russia's war on Ukraine, with many maintaining close ties to Moscow.

Saudi Arabia pledged €370 million in aid to Ukraine earlier this year and has voted in favour of UN resolutions calling on Russia to end its invasion and refrain from annexing Ukrainian territory.

Arab leaders were also joined by Syrian President Bashar Assad for the first time in more than a decade

Focus on Sudan

As leaders from the 22-member league meet in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, attention is expected to shift to Sudan.

The East African country's top generals - both of whom have been backed by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states - have been battling each other across the country for over a month, killing hundreds and sparking an exodus from the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere.

Genral Abdel-Fattah Burhan, leader of the armed forces, and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, agreed to a pact in Jeddah last week that promised safe passage for civilians fleeing the fighting and protection for aid groups.

Saudi Arabia and the United States have meanwhile been leading international efforts to broker a lasting truce.

The fighting has killed over 600 people and caused tens of thousands to flee their homes.

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