Arab nations willing to mediate between Ukraine and Russia

Arab League meeting with Russian foreign minister on Monday to be followed by talks with his Ukrainian counterpart in Poland

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during his talks with representatives of the Arab League states in Moscow. AFP
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Arab countries have expressed willingness to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in Moscow on Monday.

Mr Shoukry is part of an Arab League delegation that has visited Russia to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. The group will head to Poland on Tuesday to meet Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Warsaw.

After talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit outlined the negative effects of the Ukraine war on the economies of Arab states, including the disruption of wheat imports and higher energy prices.

But the delegation's concern goes beyond the interests of Arab nations, he said.

"We must confess that Arab nations have interests and those interests must be defended from the viewpoint of each individual state," Mr Aboul Gheit said.

"But we don't look at the matter from only an Arab perspective. We see the need to defend peace and stability in the world."

US President Joe Biden on Monday accused Russian leader Vladimir Putin of war crimes and called for a trial to be held.

There has been a global outcry over civilian killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, Mr Biden said.

Moscow has denied accusations that its forces killed civilians in places such as Bucha.

Russia said the discovery of a mass grave and corpses in the town were staged by Ukraine to tarnish Moscow.

When asked about Mr Biden's comments, Mr Lavrov said the West should first consider its own actions in Iraq and Libya.

"Not all is well with the conscience ... of American politicians," he said.

He also said Ukraine "must forget" about joining Nato.

The Arab ministers held an online meeting on Saturday in preparation for their visit, Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper reported.

The Arab League is ready to assist efforts to find a political settlement to the conflict, Russia’s Tass news agency quoted the group's assistant secretary general Hossam Zaki as saying.

The conflict, which began when Russian troops entered Ukraine on February 24, has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions of Ukrainians, including four million who have fled to neighbouring countries.

Speaking at the UN Security Council session on March 23, Mr Aboul Gheit urged world powers to reach a solution to the war and serve the interests of all sides.

He said he hoped the conflict would not affect the UN's role in tackling other issues and crises, especially in the Arab region.

Along with the general impact on the global economy, many Arab states are facing a disruption of wheat supplies because of the war.

Both Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of wheat to the region. Global grain prices have risen by as much as 37 per cent since February.

Updated: April 04, 2022, 6:57 PM