President Vladimir Putin arrived in Abu Dhabi on an official visit to the UAE, with his arrival marked by a fly-past of military aircraft streaming the colors of the Russian flag across the city's skyline.
Russian state television captured the moment when Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other officials welcomed Putin on the airport runway.
Putin touched down in Abu Dhabi to hold talks with President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who referred to Putin as his “dear friend.”
Following these talks, Putin is scheduled to journey to Saudi Arabia for his meeting with the Saudi Arabian crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman their first in-person encounter since October 2019.
Trade and oil discussions are on the agenda in the UAE, described by the Kremlin as “Russia's main economic partner in the Arab world.” Bilateral trade turnover between the two countries reached $9 billion in 2022.
This marks only Putin's third trip outside the former Soviet Union since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began, following visits to Iran and China.
Putin is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes related to the Ukraine conflict, accused of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children since March.
This visit comes as Putin seeks alliances in the Middle East amid Western isolation over the Ukraine war.
He is expected to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to Saudi Arabia.
Putin deliberately skipped the BRICS summit in South Africa in August and the in-person G20 summit in September to avoid causing a political spectacle.
The Guardian reported that Ukrainians in Dubai for the Cop28 climate talks expressed outrage over Putin being in the UAE at the same time as they felt he was guilty of committing environmental crimes against their country.
“It is extremely upsetting to see how the world treats war criminals, because that’s what he is, in my opinion,” said Marharyta Bohdanov who works in the Ukrainian pavilion at Cop28.
“Seeing how people let people like him in the big events … treating him like a dear guest, is just so hypocritical in my opinion.”
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