Ukraine's Zelenskyy in Saudi Arabia to seek support for peace plan

Riyadh has previously mediated prisoner swaps between Moscow and Kyiv

Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh

Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy landed in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday as he sought funds and support for his peace plan to end the two-year war and a deal to secure the return of prisoners of war from Russia.

Saudi Arabia has ties with both Moscow and Kyiv and has played an important role in mediating previous prisoner swaps between the two sides.

Mr Zelenskyy said on X, formerly Twitter, that Ukraine continued to "rely on Saudi Arabia's ongoing active support" in pushing forward his "Peace Formula" to end the war, which entered its third year at the weekend.

He is set to meet Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the kingdom's capital Riyadh.

The President has presented a 10-point plan that seeks the expulsion of all Russian forces from Ukraine and accountability for war crimes.

Moscow has rejected Mr Zelenskyy's proposal.

The war has ground to a stalemate, with the two sides fighting from largely static positions along a 1,500km front line.

Mr Zelenskyy said while in Saudi Arabia he would also be discussing the return of prisoners of war.

“The kingdom’s leadership has already contributed to the release of our people," he said. "I am confident that this meeting will also yield results."

Mr Zelenskyy said his visit will "discuss promising areas of economic co-operation and Saudi Arabia's involvement in Ukraine's reconstruction".

The Ukrainian leader arrived at King Khalid International Airport and was met by government officials, Saudi Arabia's state news agency said.

It is Mr Zelenskyy's second trip to Saudi Arabia. The first was in May when he met Arab leaders and Prince Mohammed.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has also visited Kyiv.

Since the war in Ukraine broke out in February 2022, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have all played important roles in mediating prisoner exchange deals between Russia and Ukraine.

Yemeni PM in Russia

As Mr Zelenskyy visited Saudi Arabia, Moscow hosted the Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia's neighbour, Yemen.

Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak was appointed Prime Minister of Yemen's official government this month, while continuing to serve in his role as Foreign Minister.

Mr bin Mubarak met Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Overchuk and they discussed bilateral relations and shared issues, the Russian government said.

“Russia and Yemen have a long tradition of strong bonds of friendship,” Mr Overchuk said in a statement.

"Last November, we celebrated an important date: 95 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. Today we have significant potential for further development of co-operation and a mutually beneficial partnership."

Saudi Arabia supports the government of Mr bin Mubarak in its battle with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who have seized control of much of northern and central Yemen, including the capital Sanaa.

Updated: February 28, 2024, 2:18 PM