Zelensky Joins Arab Summit Before Participating in G7 Meeting
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday to join a summit of Arab leaders, including the heads of wealthy Gulf States that have already provided substantial aid to Ukraine.
Mr. Zelensky said he had landed in Saudi Arabia and will meet with the kingdom’s leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and others. He wrote on Twitter that his trip aimed “to enhance bilateral relations and Ukraine’s ties with the Arab world.”
Saudi Arabia invited Mr. Zelensky to participate in the Arab League summit in the Saudi city of Jeddah. Mr. Zelensky is also expected to join the Group of 7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, this weekend, either virtually or in person, as he tries to win commitments for continued arms and aid from the world’s wealthiest democracies.
Key states in the Arab world have walked a fine line between Ukraine and Russia during the war. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia, in particular, has tried to position itself as a mediator and does not want to be seen as taking sides.
Saudi Arabia pledged $400 million in aid to Ukraine earlier this year. The United Arab Emirates, which maintains a close relationship with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, has also pledged more than $100 million in aid for Ukraine.
A key focus of the United States and the West has been trying to stop Russia from finding new supplies of weaponry. U.S. and NATO officials have hindered Russia’s domestic manufacturing with sanctions and export controls, and put diplomatic pressure on countries to reject Russian requests for arms.
Washington appears to have succeeded in this regard with Egypt, another key player in the Arab world.
While U.S. officials were quietly pressing Cairo to supply artillery shells to Ukraine, U.S. intelligence agencies gathered information, first reported by The Washington Post, that Egyptian officials might also supply weaponry to Russia.
After a diplomatic push by the United States and Britain, the Egyptians appeared to support the Americans. According to a subsequent intelligence report, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt rejected the idea of supplying the Russian side.
U.S. officials said a production contract has been agreed with Egyptian state-owned arms makers to produce artillery shells for the United States and American contractors, who, in turn, will send them to Ukraine.