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Saudi prince’s Ukraine mediation alerts ‘helpful’ Russia ties – analysts

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Saudi Arabia has gained a diplomatic victory by securing freedom for overseas fighters captured in Ukraine, signalling the worth of the crown prince’s alliance with Russia to Western companions in search of to isolate Moscow over the conflict there, analysts say.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman can also discover that the initiative — deliberately or in any other case — helps take him a step nearer worldwide rehabilitation after the 2018 homicide of Jamal Khashoggi broken his fame, they are saying.

With Prince Mohammed’s mediation, Russia on Wednesday launched 10 foreigners it had captured in Ukraine, together with 5 Britons and two Americans.

The move, apparently made doable by Prince Mohammed’s rigorously nurtured ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, coincided with a prisoner change involving 215 Ukrainians and 55 Russians and pro-Moscow Ukrainians that Turkey helped dealer.

Kristian Ulrichsen, a political scientist at Rice University’s Baker Institute within the United States, mentioned the working relationship between Saudi Arabia and Russia seems to have been an important aspect within the alternative of middleman.

“By sanctioning this mediation and delivering results, Mohammed bin Salman is able to present himself as capable of playing the role of regional statesman in a way that counters the narrative of the crown prince as an impulsive and disruptive actor,” Ulrichsen mentioned.

Prince Mohammed’s preliminary picture as a daring reformer was battered by the 2018 homicide of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, by the hands of Saudi brokers seen as near MbS.

He denies ordering Khashoggi’s killing whereas saying he in the end bore accountability because it occurred below his watch.


In remarks to the BBC, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan mentioned the motivation behind Saudi Arabia’s involvement within the prisoner launch was humanitarian. He denied the Crown Prince had turn into concerned to rehabilitate his fame.

“That didn’t factor into it. I think that’s a very cynical view,” he mentioned. He added that on the battle itself, the dominion wished to see a negotiated resolution and Riyadh was dedicated to attempting to assist safe that final result.

Prince Faisal mentioned the crown prince had engaged with Putin to work out a prisoner deal since April, when he “understood” the difficulty of the 5 British residents following a go to to the dominion by then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“His Royal Highness was able to convince President Putin that this is a humanitarian gesture that is worthwhile, and this is how we achieved this result,” Prince Faisal instructed Fox News.

The freed prisoners, who additionally included a Croatian, a Moroccan, and a Swedish nationwide, had been flown to Riyadh on a Saudi aircraft the place officers lined as much as greet them.

US residents Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, each from Alabama, are anticipated to depart Saudi Arabia inside days, officers mentioned.

The significance of the dominion, the world’s largest oil exporter, to each Washington and Moscow has grown at a time when Russia’s conflict in Ukraine is roiling world power markets.

World leaders have beat a path to Riyadh to ask for extra oil manufacturing. But Saudi Arabia has proven little readiness to hitch the hassle to isolate Russia. It has stepped up its cooperation with Putin, together with throughout the OPEC+ oil producers’ group.


A go to in July by US President Biden did not safe commitments from the Saudis for an instantaneous oil output rise or a harsher stance towards Putin, highlighting the tensions weighing on the connection between Washington and Riyadh.

Ali Shihabi, a pro-government commentator, mentioned the Saudi mediation within the prisoners’ launch “was a first”.

“I think the kingdom was messaging the West that its ties to Russia can also serve a useful purpose for them,” mentioned Shihabi.

“You need some countries to maintain ties to both sides.”

A Western diplomat mentioned the prisoners’ deal had been months within the making, however a lot of the diplomatic neighborhood within the Gulf heard about it solely on the final stage.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and British Prime Minister Liz Truss thanked the Saudi crown prince for his position.

Kristin Diwan, senior resident scholar on the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, mentioned it was uncommon for Saudi Arabia to deploy the technique of diplomatic brokerage — one thing effectively established for smaller Gulf states equivalent to Qatar to leverage their ties.

“It’s like alchemy – he (Prince Mohammed) is turning his much-criticized ties with Russia into gold,” Diwan mentioned.

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