Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to attend hurriedly scheduled high-stakes discussions with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) on oil, Gaza, and Ukraine after concluding off a rare overseas trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Putin and the UAE president were scheduled to discuss the battles in Gaza and Ukraine, as well as oil output.
The UAE is presently hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), but the Kremlin has not stated if Putin would attend.
He has scarcely left Russia since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest order for him in March.
The International Criminal Court has charged him with unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children to Russia, a war crime, but neither the UAE nor Saudi Arabia acknowledge the court's authority.
Other recent foreign meetings that Putin has avoided include the Brics in South Africa in August and the G20 in India in September.
The excursions coincide with Russia's desire to project influence and undercut the West's efforts to isolate it.
"Our relations have reached unprecedented levels," Putin told UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Trade and oil will be on the table in the UAE, which is described as "Russia's main economic partner in the Arab world" in a Kremlin statement.
The Russian president was expected to visit Saudi Arabia later on Wednesday to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler.
According to the Kremlin, the two leaders would "consider ways to promote de-escalation" in the confrontation between Israel and Hamas.
Conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and Sudan will also be discussed in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, according to Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov.
Officials from the Kremlin have also confirmed that Putin would meet with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi on Thursday to address the Gaza conflict.
Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Putin has only visited Russian-occupied Ukraine, Iran, and China.
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