Saudi Arabia plans to host peace talks next month in Jeddah, focusing on finding a way to start negotiations over Russia’s war on Ukraine. Russia is expected to not attend.
Saudi Arabia is set to host a peace talks organised by Ukraine on the coming weekend, August 5 and 6, convening top officials from western nations and major developing nations including India and Brazil, Wall Street Journal reported.
According to an anonymous official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the summit will be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea port city. No official is authorised to publicly speak about the summit.
The Associated Press’ request for comment has not yet been answered by Saudi officials or Ukraine’s Embassy in Riyadh. It is notable that the announcement of the summit follows US national security adviser Jake Sullivan’s visit to Saudi Arabia on Thursday.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Russia and China are unlikely to attend the summit. Ukraine’s participation in the summit has led to the absence of Russia and China.
A high-level official from US President Joe Biden’s administration, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is expected to attend, although there has been no confirmation from the National Security Council.
The meeting is set to bring together senior officials from up to 30 countries. Britain, South Africa, Poland, and the European Union are among those who have confirmed attendance
A full list of participants was not available, although Indonesia, Egypt, Mexico, Chile and Zambia, Japan are among the invitees. Major developing countries including India and Brazil are too expected to attend.
It remains unclear how many of the invited countries will attend the summit. However, according to the report, countries that participated in a similar round of talks in Copenhagen in June are expected to attend again as this summit would be the next step after the Copenhagen talks in June.
Saudi Arabia’s efforts to involve Diplomats in discussions over Russia-Ukraine War
This August Summit is seen as Saudi Arabia’s efforts to take a leading role in diplomatic efforts related to the Ukraine war. A Saudi official had informed journalists earlier this year that Riyadh would be willing to help mediate and resolve the conflict, particularly in regards to “important minor issues” that could eventually lead to a political solution for the entire matter.
This summit came as a follow-up to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s attendance at an Arab League summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he had criticized some Arab leaders for ignoring the atrocities committed during Russia’s invasion and urged developing nations to support his peace plan to end the war.
Reports stated that Ukrainian and Western officials are optimistic that the talks can result in strengthening international support for Ukraine’s peace demands amid ongoing tension between the two nations willing to negotiate on certain conditions.
The Russian Government has stated that it is willing to engage in peace talks with Ukraine only if Kyiv recognizes “new realities,” which is a reference to its claims of annexation of one sixth of territories of Ukraine. On the other hand, Kyiv has stated that negotiations with Russia can only happen after Moscow removes its troops.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s hosting of this summit is seen as an opportunity to raise his profile as a peacemaker though held responsible for Killing Jamal Khashoggi, Washington Post Columnist in 2018 at Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by the US intelligence agencies. He has been working towards a détente with Iran and has been pushing for peace in Saudi Arabia’s conflict in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia’s Neutral Approach to Russia-Ukraine War.
The Arab nations have mostly remained neutral given their military and economic connections with Moscow, since Russia began the war on Ukraine in February 2022.
Being a part of OPEC group, Saudi Arabia has been in a close relationship with Russia on energy policy. The group’s oil production cuts, despite Moscow’s war on Ukraine and the resulting increase in energy prices. At the time, Washington had accused Saudi Arabia of aligning with Russia in the war.
However, Riyadh has backed UN Security Council resolutions denouncing Russia’s invasion as well as Russia’s declared annexation of territory in eastern Ukraine.
In addition to it, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan of Saudi Aravia visited Kyiv in February 2023 and pledged $400 million in humanitarian aid, including allocations for Ukrainian refugees who fled to neighbouring countries.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia had also played a significant role in negotiating prisoner exchanges with Russia in September 2022, which allowed Ukraine to carry out a major exchange that involved nearly 300 people. This included commanders who were stranded in the besieged Azovstal plant located in Mariupol.