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  • Writer's pictureMaxim Savinykh

New Power Brokers of Global Politics? The Unexpected Role of the Gulf Monarchies in Ukraine War Negotiations

by Maxim Savinykh

For at least the past two decades, the dominant Arab monarchies of the Gulf, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, have been seeking to extend their influence beyond the region. Initially, their efforts were evident in their attempts to influence European and North American cultural, educational and research institutions through generous financial investments, with the aim to enhance perception in the US and EU (Davidson 2021). In the eyes of the KSA, UAE and Qatar reputation is not an abstract issue, but one that has practical consequences for their economic development and relations with the Western countries. Although the US and European countries are often criticized for their lack of commitment to the defense of human rights (Pager and Abutaleb 2022; BBC News 2022), they never the less raise the topic regularly with the Arab monarchies(Beaumont 2019; Holland et al. 2022), occasionally leading to economic, military, and political setbacks (Oppenheim 2019). The recurring problems in the arms trade between the US and the UAE are illustrative in this regard. For instance, the implementation of previously agreed-upon deals may be delayed or even revoked(Merchant 2021; Iddon 2023).

As a result, the Gulf states are seeking to improve their global reputation, catering not only to Western nations but also to a broader international audience. Furthermore, they are striving to pursue a foreign policy that is more independent from the impact of the US and western countries. In particular, this is evident in the efforts of KSA, UAE, and Qatar to extend their influence beyond their immediate region. Despite the countries’ heavy dependence in the subject of security, the United States’ overall influence in the region is decreasing. To some extent, this is linked to Washington's deliberate choice. Since the Obama Administration, there has been a concerted effort to reduce involvement in Middle Eastern affairs and shift focus towards the Asia-Pacific region. Consequently, the Middle East has started to evolve into a more multipolar region compared to the 1990s and 2000s. This shift has led to a more decentralized and, one might say, anarchic global international relations landscape. While the United States remains the most influential state, other global political actors such as China, India, South Africa, and Brazil are assuming increasingly important roles. Against this backdrop, Ishtar's earlier analysis of China's policy in the MENA region holds significance[1].

These circumstances are propelling Gulf countries towards the intensification of new directions in their foreign policy. This paper explores one such direction, specifically, the involvement of KSA, UAE, and Qatar in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. This involvement has sparked a new debate about the role of the Gulf states in global politics(Ulrichsen 2022; Aboudouh 2022; Cafiero 2023; Chausovsky 2023). Considering the escalating diplomatic endeavors of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar beyond their region, this article tries to examine the ambitions of the aforementioned countries with regard to the conflict in Ukraine and embedding it into broader trends. This investigation starts with the visits of Vladimir Putin to the UAE and the KSA in December 2023.


Russian “breakthrough” of international isolation

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has rarely left Russia. For comparison, in 2019 Putin made 22 trips abroad, while in 2023 he made only 6. Each of his overseas travels is widely discussed in the Russian media as a major foreign policy event. The President’s visit to UAE and KSA at the end of 2023 was not an exception. One of the state broadcaster’s most popular journalists, Pavel Zarubin, covered the event as follows:

From the very first seconds of Putin's arrival in Abu Dhabi, as he walked down the ramp, the whole world was watching what was happening from the bottom to the top”( 2023).

 “The whole world is already used to discussing their [Putin and MBS] handshakes. The leaders have given a new reason for discussion [the cameraman shows an energetic handshake between Putin and MBS]. And this cannot be just a protocol courtesy. This really speaks to a special level of relationship [between them and countries]( 2023).

The journalists’ repetition of the phrase “the whole world” seems to frame Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Gulf as a highly significant event not only for Russia or the MENA, but for global politics in general. Furthermore, emphasizing this, the journalist tries to show that attempts of the “Global West” to isolate Russia has failed and all EU and US can do is watch and discuss how the Kremlin has managed to outwit them. And according to the above-mentioned TV program, this was possible thanks to Putin’s political skills and his ability to establish a particularly trusting relationship with MBZ and MBS.

The value of this state media report is that it demonstrates an accurate self-perception of the current Russian leadership. The Kremlin is trying to prove to itself and the outside world that the consequences of the military operation in Ukraine have not been as negative for Russia as local oppositionists or foreign commentators had initially expected. Moreover, according to Moscow’s own narrative, the emerging powers of the “Global South”, such as the KSA and the UAE, are not less valuable in terms of their economic potential than the European Union. But here the question arises as to the content of the of Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Middle East. In essence, what topics were discussed during those visits?


Looking closely at the faces of the Russian delegation

Despite widespread coverage of Putin’s visit to the UAE and the KSA, the substance of his trip is not clear. Just before the Russian delegation’s negotiations with the Emiratis, journalists were asked to leave the room. The reason for this was openly voiced by Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov as follows:

“Economic cooperation [between Russia and the UAE], despite all the interest, cannot be completely public now, because there are […] a large number of countries that want to put pressure on us and on our partners. That is why it is necessary to maintain a certain degree of discretion, and that is probably the key to our being able to develop our cooperation”( 2023).  

Here, Peskov points to the UAE as a platform for “grey schemes” to circumvent Western sanctions against Russia. However, despite all the secrecy surrounding the negotiations, a few conclusions can be drawnby taking a closer look at composition of the Russian delegation. This way, the most conspicuous delegate is the chairwoman of the Central Bank, Elvira Nabiullina. Even before the Ukraine conflict, officials in this position rarely travelled abroad, as their duties are mostly focused on domestic economic policy. However, the problems faced by the Russian financial system in the aftermath of the conflict in Ukraine have led to major adjustments in Nabiullina’s schedule.

First of all, after 2022, cooperation between the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and Western countries was almost completely stopped. It was therefore important to find alternative places to store and trade this institution’s assets. The UAE turned out to be one of the key places. Thus, in 2022, Russia became the largest importer of gold from the Emirates (RBC 2023). No less important is the problem of foreign currency payments for Russian companies operating in international markets. Initially, numerous Russian companies began finalizing their agreements with foreign partners in Dubai. In pursuit of this objective, many Russian financial institutions are endeavoring to establish representative offices in the region. However, following sanctions imposed on one of the banks that pursued this course, there’s a push for confidentiality in these endeavors. According to Forbes, one prominent Russian bank purportedly operates a representative office in Dubai under an alternate name, despite officially refuting such claims(Forbes 2023b). Until recently, it has been relatively easy since the UAE’s policy on this issue towards Russian residents was relatively soft. However during the last half of the year, Russian residents are finding it increasingly challenging to carry out their financial transactions in the United Arab Emirates due to the escalation of U.S. secondary sanctions(Forbes 2024). Currently, the success of Russian companies in the UAE hinges on their capacity to operate discreetly, making it exceedingly challenging to predict their future prospects. Nevertheless, with the growing influx of Russian businessmen to Dubai, it seems there are still opportunities available to them. And the Russian Central Bank appears to be exerting its utmost effort to maintain these opportunities.

Other delegates from the economic sector encompassed Andrei Belousov (First Deputy Prime Minister), Maxim Oreshkin (Assistant to the President for Economic Affairs), Igor Levitin (Assistant to the President for Transport Issues), Denis Manturov (Minister of Industry and Trade), Yuri Borisov (Responsible for Space), Alexey Likhachev (nuclear energy), Kirill Dmitriev (sovereign wealth fund) and, of course, Alexander Novak (Deputy Prime Minister in charge of energy issues). Taking into consideration the size and thematic specializations of the delegates, it is fair to assume that discussion evolved around the context of sanctions andchallenges related to parallel imports. Needless to say that trade turnover between the UAE and Russia increased by 68% in 2022(Forbes 2023c). Most likely, such an increase in business activity was due solely to “grey imports”(Smagin 2023; Troianovski and Ewing 2023; Gilchrist 2024).

However, among the Russian representatives there was a person who received less media attention. This is Ruslan Edelgeriev, who holds the post of Special Representative of the President on climate issues. Despite this modest-looking position, one of his priorities today is to unfreeze Russian gold and foreign currency assets in international organizations (Forbes 2023d). Until 2018, he was one of the most influential officials around the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, who also accompanied the Russian President during his visit to the Gulf. Since moving to Moscow and becoming Putin’s special envoy on climate change, Edelgeriev has only increased his influence (Milashina 2023). This begs the question: why were two people from an economically underdeveloped and subsidized Russian region included in such a high-level Russian delegation?


The role of Russian Republics in Moscow’s relations with the Gulf

Since the inception of Vladimir Putin’s presidency, a primary objective of his administration has been to diminish the autonomy of Russia’s internal regions. This agenda inherently entails curbing their latitude in engaging with foreign nations. Indeed, Putin’s government has made significant steps in realizing this goal. However, “even under the conditions of a relatively centralized authoritarian state” Russian regions maintained some sort of autonomy in their foreign policy, especially in the issues related to “resource attraction and ethnic identity construction”(Stremoukhov 2022, 1). When a particular region seeks to attract foreign investments and establishes direct connections with a specific foreign country, the federal center is unlikely to oppose such efforts. However, any agreements and official treaties between an internal Russian region and a foreign state must be approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Republic of Tatarstan, home to a significant Muslim population, serves as a prominent case in pursuing its own relations with some foreign countries. Prior to 2014, its focus predominantly g,evolved around economic engagements with the European Union. However, the imposition of sanctions compelled Tatarstan to pivot towards the Middle East at large, and the Persian Gulf in particular. Rustam Minnikhanov, the head of Tatarstan, has made multiple trips to the region, including meetings with the King of Saudi Arabia (Kommersant 2017). He regards the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as one of the republic’s most dependable foreign partners, emphasizing its pivotal role in broader Russian-Emirati relations (TatarInform 2022; TASS 2024b).

Some North Caucasian republics have made much more modest attempts to forge links with the Gulf states: Ingushetia (TASS 2017b; 2017a) and Dagestan (TASS 2018; Riadagestan 2024). But it is Chechnya and its leader Ramzan Kadyrov who are most in the public eye from this point of view. Authoritative expert on Russian regions Natalia Zubarevich claims that he “is an emissary of the federal center who is trying to attract Arab capital to Russia [and Chechnya]. Not only is he on his own, but he is clearly fulfilling a federal role in building bridges and negotiating with Arab countries that have greater [overseas] resources. And Russia desperately needs foreign investment”(BBC 2018).

Despite this, Chechnya’s investment potential remains modest. Many economic projects involving Gulf countries have yielded low returns or have been primarily philanthropic in nature (BBC 2018). Taking this into account helps to understand the motivation of the Middle Eastern leaders to deal with the leader of Chechnya. “The Gulf monarchies may be interested in Ramzan Kadyrov as an influential politician with access to Putin. […] Saudi Arabia and its allies may even rely on the Chechen leader’s lobbying skills”(Openmedia 2017). In other words, for the Arab monarchies, it is the political rather than the economic outcome of dealing with Kadyrov that matters.

For its part, given trusted relationship of Chechnya’s head with Gulf leaders, the Kremlin utilizes him not only for economic purposes but also for some special political missions( Aleksanyan 2019). Hence, the inclusion of Ramzan Kadyrov and one of his close associates in a high-level delegation to the Gulf can be better understood in this context.


Kadyrov’s special missions in the MENA

Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in special missions in the Middle East notably includes efforts to repatriate widows and children of ISIS members who held Russian citizenship (Lenta 2018). Many of these individuals faced either imprisonment or had completed their sentences. Through mediation led by the Chechen leader, approximately 24 women and around 200 children were successfully returned to Russia (Sokiryanskaya 2020). And as it was said earlier, Kadyrov is not doing it alone.

The aforementioned Ruslan Edelgeriev had aided the Chechen leader during his overseas trips in the MENA region before assuming a federal position in Moscow. Furthermore, Kadyrov previously had his own representative in the Middle East, Ziyad Sabsabi, which is absolutely unique for Russian regional heads. Sabsabi was educated in Syria, speaks fluent Arabic and is well connected in the region. He was precisely the technical implementer of the return of Russian women and children to the country. Sabsabi is now apparently retired, but Kadyrov still has his people in the MENA.

For example, Turko Daudov, one of the senior figures in the Chechen administration in the past, is currently Russia’s representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Similarly, Elbrus Kurtashev, Russia’s ambassador to Iraq, hails from Chechen roots. Educated in Moscow and boasting a lifelong career within the Foreign Ministry, there exists no direct evidence linking him to the Chechen leadership. However, Ramzan Kadyrov has frequently shared photos with Kurtashev on his social media platforms, expressing pride in the diplomat’s accomplishments upon his appointment( 2021). Given that Kurtashev was promoted to the rank of ambassador at the age of 45, while the average age of a Russian ambassador is 55, it would not be surprising if the head of Chechnya favored the appointment. However, it must be emphasized that there is no direct evidence of this.

In the context of this article, it is also important to take a closer look at Shamsail Saraliev. Formerly head of foreign relations for the Chechen Republic, he is now deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs. When Arab monarchies took the initiative to act as mediators in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, Saraliyev became one of the Russian representatives involved in this process. “He [Saraliyev] is often the speaker on the issue of the prisoner exchange, gives some details and publishes videos of the exchange. Not every deputy is allowed to do this. Especially a deputy from a region. But in this case he has great opportunities”(Kezhev 2024). 

Thus, Ramzan Kadyrov is able to use his authority and connections in the Gulf to help Moscow resolve such key foreign policy issues as the exchange of prisoners of war. As is often the case in negotiations, it is not so much a particular outcome that matters, but the process itself, “in which actors and agents used the negotiations to deepen their personal, professional and public ambitions”(Firat 2019). In other words, it seems that such active interaction between Kadyrov and the Arab monarchies is due to his desire to increase his authority in the eyes of the Kremlin and to be not only an “effective manager in the republic” but also a foreign policy actor for it. For the Gulf countries, in turn, Kadyrov is a convenient partner in the sense that they can speak the same language. His style of governance, being strictly authoritarian and personalized, is extremely understandable to Arab monarchs. Apparently, the religious factor also plays a role, as the leader of Chechnya positions himself as a deeply devout Muslim. In other words, the Gulf states perceive Kadyrov as somewhat of a “comfortable” instrument for interacting with  Moscow. Having informal contacts with him, they have the opportunity to reach President Putin on certain issues faster than using official communication channels. However, his importance should not be overestimated. The head of Chechnya is just one of the Gulf monarchs’ tools, albeit a useful and effective one, to achieve its goals. The same can be said about the Kremlin. The aforementioned visit of the Russian delegation to the Gulf was also attended by Mikhail Bogdanov, who is in charge of Middle East policy for the Foreign Ministry. And the role of this particular person and the agency he represents is no less than Kadyrov’s role in Middle Eastern affairs.

Either way, the involvement of the Chechen head in Gulf mediation efforts to exchange prisoners of war is understandable. Equally interesting is the question of how, in general, the Arab monarchies became mediators. After all, it would seem that these countries are infinitely distant from the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.


From Turkey to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies

One of the first Middle Eastern actors to attempt to play the role of mediator between Russia and Ukraine was Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In two previous articles, Ishtar wrote about the Turkish president’s efforts to extend the Grain Deal between Moscow and Kiev[2]. In addition, he and – unexpectedly - Mohammed bin Salman were involved in the exchange of prisoners of war in autumn 2022. As part of this deal, Saudi Arabia helped to return 10 foreign militaries, who fought on the side of Ukraine. They were the citizens of the UK, USA, Morocco, Sweden and Croatia. Erdogan, in turn, got five commanders of the Ukrainian special forces unit Azov. He gave personal guarantees that they would remain on Turkish territory until the end of hostilities. This was a fundamental point for Moscow, as Azov fighters were portrayed as embodiment of evil by state-run media. Some officers of this unit could be subjected to a “show trial as Nazi criminals”(DW 2022) by Russian authorities. In essence, the Kremlin’s rationale boiled down to the following argument: if we release individuals deemed dangerous and harmful, they should not return to the battlefield. However, in the summer of 2023, these prisoners of war were suddenly handed over to Volodymyr Zelensky during his visit to Turkey and flown home on board the presidential aircraft. This provoked an extremely negative reaction in Moscow. Putin’s spokesman called these actions “[…] a direct violation of the terms of the existing agreements [...] In this case, both the Ukrainian and Turkish sides violated the terms”(Forbes 2023a).

Surely Recep Erdogan could not have been unaware of how the Kremlin would perceive it. The point seems to be that the Turkish president’s initial mediation efforts were not so much tied to a specific outcome as to boost his ratings in the upcoming presidential elections, which took place in May 2023, a role which the Turkish president didn’t estimate to be of great importance anymore after the electionsAs a result, Turkey was left out of subsequent prisoner swaps, and the role of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar was increasingly discussed.


Gulf monarchies in Russian-Ukrainian conflict

The involvement of Saudi Arabia in facilitating prisoner of war exchanges between Russia and Ukraine did happen far from than just once. Thanks to Riyadh’s mediation, Moscow and Kiev have successfully negotiated the return of numerous POWs, with the total count likely reaching into the hundreds. Furthermore, Riyadh seeks to assert itself in other arenas; in the summer of 2023, the Kingdom hosted international negotiations aimed at resolving the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Despite Kremlin representatives not being invited, Saudi Arabia has emphasized its commitment to keeping Moscow informed about the discussions (Radio Free 2023). In other words, Riyadh tries to maintain a balance between the two conflicting sides. This can also be seen in the way the Saudi leadership organizes meetings with representatives from Moscow and Kiev. For example, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Saudi Arabia was followed by a trip to KSA by the speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament (Al Arabiya 2024). The reactions from opposing sides highlight the balanced approach Riyadh manages to achieve. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, for example, lauded Saudi Arabia's efforts in the following terms:

“We appreciate this [mediation efforts by KSA] and see it as a useful contribution [to resolve the Russian-Ukrainian conflict] […] And to a large extent, the arrangements that allowed this [POW exchanges] to materialize were made with the assistance of Saudi Arabia and a number of other Arab states(Interfax 2023).

It is no coincidence that Lavrov mentions other regional actors. Thus, the United Arab Emirates has been able to establish an extremely stable channel of communication between the Russian and Ukrainian sides for the exchange of prisoners of war. A noteworthy incident highlights this: in January of this year, a Russian plane transporting Ukrainian POWs to the exchange point was tragically shot down, resulting in the loss of all on board. Despite initial blame exchanges between Moscow and Kiev, which could have jeopardized the exchange process, it proceeded as planned a few days later. The Russian side expressed gratitude to the UAE for its assistance in ensuring the exchange took place (Russian Emirates 2024b). While the precise mechanisms by which Abu Dhabi maintains this fragile channel remain confidential, it’s evident that the UAE commands significant trust and authority in both Russia and Ukraine. In this context, it is imperative to acknowledge the involvement of another Gulf nation in addressing one of the most poignant humanitarian issues between Moscow and Kiev: that of divided families. Thousands of children were forcibly taken from Ukraine to the territory of Russia(UN Press 2023). Efforts to reunite them have proven nearly impossible within the confines of bilateral relations between Moscow and Kyiv. It is here that the influence of the Gulf region becomes pivotal. Through Qatar's mediation, 16 children have been successfully repatriated to Ukraine in recent months (Vedomosti 2024b; RBK 2024).

Observing how the KSA, the UAE, and Qatar are simultaneously exerting considerable efforts to mediate in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, one may question whether they are competing in this process. Regarding Doha, it appears to have carved out its niche, primarily focusing on one particular issue – repatriating children to their families. As for Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, there is limited information available in the media. However, considering the strong relationship between Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed, it is unlikely that compete on this issue. They likely operate independently, without engaging in bilateral cooperation between each other.    


Reasons for the success of the Gulf Arab monarchies

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, traditional mediators in various conflicts have primarily been European countries or the United States. However, during the 2022 Russian-Ukrainian military confrontation, they notably sided with Kiev, leading Moscow to harbor deep mistrust towards the West. In turn, the role of Turkey proved to be short-lived. While Moscow does not rule out future cooperation with Ankara in its conflict with Kiev, the Kremlin clearly has less confidence in it than in the Arab monarchies.. The Gulf states, for their part, are much less dependent on the sentiments of their constituents because they simply don’t have any. For countries like KSA, UAE and Qatar foreign policy is almost always exclusively an intra-elite affair with a small number of actors, which makes their position more consistent in this particular case.

Perhaps another factor in the success of Arab monarchies is equally linked to their autocratic nature.  Firstly, in non-democratic systems, swift resolution of issues is facilitated when the leader's attention is singularly focused. In contrast, democratic systems often entail prolonged discussions followed by bureaucratic implementation. Russian journalist Alexei Venediktov, who maintains constant communication with EU diplomats regarding the issue of divided Ukrainian families, illustrates this point by highlighting Qatar’s success as follows: “the head of Qatar just picks up the phone and calls the ambassador [in Russia], but France spends a lot of time coordinating, so the moment can be missed”(Zhivoj Gvozd 2024).

Certainly, the argument presented in the above paragraph does not imply that autocracies are inherently more effective than democracies. Rather, it suggests that in specific cases, such as diplomatic mediation, authoritarian regimes in the Gulf region have comparative advantages and may act more swiftly than their counterparts in the EU or the US. This expeditiousness can be attributed to the hands-on approach of top leaders in these states, who often maintain direct control over their Foreign Ministries’ mediation efforts without the need for extensive coordination.

The second dimension of the “authoritarian” explanation for the success of Gulf states in mediating between Moscow and Kyiv is multifaceted. As anti-democratic tendencies in Russia have intensified, it has become evident that Putin and his inner circle find it more comfortable and expedient to engage with similar regimes. Firstly, non-democratic nations are less likely to criticize the Kremlin for human rights violations and other humanitarian or ideological issues. Secondly, authoritarian countries tend to be more centralized, making them easier for the current Russian leadership to comprehend. Agreements reached with supreme executive powers are less prone to subsequent challenges from parliamentary opposition, as often observed in the EU or the US.

Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that this year the Kremlin has begun to influence critics of Moscow’s official position on Ukraine who have left Russia. As a result, some Russian celebrities were either banned from entering the UAE or forced to leave (Daily Afisha 2024; Russian Emirates 2024a). Such assistance from Abu Dhabi undeniably fosters an additional layer of trust in its relations with Moscow. As previously illustrated, the Gulf countries possess their own unique mechanisms, exemplified by figures like Ramzan Kadyrov, for engaging with the Kremlin. While Kadyrov may not be the primary determinant of the Arab monarchies' success in fostering relations with Moscow, his presence underscores a distinct advantage not available to other foreign nations.

However, it would be erroneous to characterize the Gulf states’ relations with Russia as entirely positive. The UAE, for instance, has significantly curtailed financial opportunities for Russian entities on its territory due to pressure from the US (TASS 2024a; Vedomosti 2024a). Additionally, Moscow has struggled to achieve significant breakthroughs in economic cooperation with the Arab monarchies. As noted by a Kremlin pool correspondent, “[...] the activity of colleagues from the Emirates, including investment activity, is not really great. There should be no illusions about this. The difficult situation in which Russia finds itself as a result of the sanctions is holding them back. That is to say, like everyone else, they are waiting for everything to be over”(Kommersant 2023).

Regarding Kyiv’s trusting attitude towards the Gulf countries, several factors contribute to this sentiment. Firstly, the Arab monarchies provide funds for Ukraine’s humanitarian needs. Secondly, despite their aspirations for independent policies, KSA, UAE, and Qatar remain close allies of the US. For Ukraine, which aspires to be part of the West, this is of fundamental importance.

All in all, these developments collectively demonstrate the Gulf states’ success in expanding their influence beyond their region. While their impact should not be overstated, the humanitarian efforts of the Arab monarchies have garnered them favorable recognition. Although their initiatives have not directly influenced the future of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, this was not their primary objective. Instead, their aim was to enhance their international standing, a goal they are steadily progressing towards by employing various tools, including engagement with Russian regional politicians. Consequently, Moscow and Kyiv now perceive the Arab monarchies as reliable and trustworthy partners.

Building upon this foundation, it would not be surprising if peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, should they materialize, were to occur in the states of the Gulf. Furthermore, the involvement of the Gulf states as mediators in other international conflicts would not be out of the realm of possibility. The possibility for peace talk between the countries will be clearer to estimates after the much anticipated peace summit in Switzerland has been held.


Maxim Savinykh is an independent analyst writing for Ishtar MENA Analytics from St.Petersburg. He is a PhD Candidate in Comparative Politics of Eurasia at the Higher School for Economics in St. Petersburg. His most recent research focuses on Iran's nuclear aspirations.


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