Zelenskiy praises Saudi efforts in seeking end to war


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has held talks in Saudi Arabia with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and praised the kingdom’s efforts in seeking a solution to end Russia’s two-year-old invasion of Ukraine.

A statement on Zelenskiy’s website said the two men discussed Kyiv’s Peace Formula for ending the conflict and the president thanked the crown prince for his “valuable advice” in finding ways to speed up its implementation.

“The head of state (Zelenskiy) noted in particular Saudi Arabia’s strivings to help in restoring a just peace in Ukraine,” the statement said.

“Saudi Arabia’s leadership can help find a just solution,” it quoted Zelenskiy as saying.

Zelenskiy and the crown prince discussed the content of a peace summit Switzerland has agreed to host later in the year. Also discussed were “possible steps for truly restoring security for Ukraine”, Europe and the world.

“We have identical interests in ensuring global stability,” the statement quoted Zelenskiy as saying.

The Saudi state news agency said the crown prince “affirmed the Kingdom’s keenness and support for all international endeavours and efforts aimed at resolving the Ukrainian-Russian crisis”.

It later reported that Zelenskiy had left the kingdom.

Zelenskiy had earlier written on the Telegram messaging app: “Now we are very close to holding the first peace summit and we count on continued active support from Saudi Arabia.”

Ukraine has held several multilateral meetings to discuss the peace formula with representatives from dozens of countries. The plan provides for the withdrawal of Russian troops, recognition of Ukraine’s 1991 post-Soviet borders, and provisions for bringing Russia to account for its actions.

Saudi Arabia has previously acted as a mediator in prisoner swaps between Ukraine and Russia. Zelenskiy said he was sure his meeting on Tuesday would “bring results” in this regard.

One of the preparatory meetings for the proposed peace summit took place in the Saudi city of Jeddah last August.

The Ukrainian military said on Tuesday it withdrew its forces from two more villages near Avdiivka in the eastern Donetsk region following intense overnight fighting.

Ukrainian troops have pulled back from Sieverne and Stepove, army spokesman Dmytro Lykhovyi said.

The two villages had a population of about 100 people in total before the full-scale invasion, he said.

Meanwhile Germany, the United Kingdom and other European countries said they had no plans to send ground troops to Ukraine, after France hinted at the possibility, and the Kremlin warned that any such move would inevitably lead to conflict between Russia and NATO.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has ruled out sending ground troops to the Ukraine. (AP PHOTO)

French President Emmanuel Macron had said on Monday at a hastily convened meeting of European leaders in Paris that no options should be excluded in seeking to avert a Russian victory in Ukraine, although he stressed there was no consensus at this stage.

However, Germany, the UK, Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic distanced themselves from any suggestion they might commit ground troops to the Ukraine war, now in its third year.

“…There will be no ground troops, no soldiers on Ukrainian soil sent there by European countries or NATO states,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday.

with AP