Saudi Arabia Prepares Peace Talks Between Russia, Ukraine

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia hosted talks with senior officials from about 40 counties that Ukraine and its allies hope will lead to a plan for a peaceful end to the war, Reuters reported.

The two-day meeting, which included officials from China, India, and the United States, is part of Kyiv’s diplomatic push to expand support beyond its key Western allies to include Global South countries that have thus far remained neutral in the war.

Speaking on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was important to hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the weekend talks. While Zelensky acknowledged that there are differences among the countries, he stressed the importance of restoring a rules-based international order.

Russia did not attend the weekend meeting, but Moscow said it would monitor the talks.

International officials, including those from Ukraine and Russia, said no direct peace talks between the two countries are expected anytime soon while the war drags on.

An EU official told Reuters that no joint statement would be issued at the close of the meeting, but Saudi officials would present a plan for future meetings and working groups would meet to discuss issues related to the war, including prisoner releases, global food security, and nuclear safety.

The official told Reuters that the talks were positive and there was consensus that any peace agreement includes at the heart Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

China sent Li Hui, its special envoy for Eurasian Affairs to the weekend talks. Beijing has maintained close diplomatic and economic ties with Moscow throughout the war and has consistently resisted calls to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Shri Ajit Doval, India’s National Security Advisor also attended the meetings in Jeddah. Like China, India has maintained its close relationship with Russia and refused to condemn Moscow for the war. India has also increased its import of Russian oil.

Representatives from the other BRICS group nations, South Africa and Brazil, also attended the meeting, with South African security advisor Syndey Mufamadi attending in person and Brazil’s foreign policy advisor Celso Amorim attending via video link.