Putin visits Saudi Arabia, UAE on Middle East tour

Russian President Vladimir Putin has arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday after visiting the United Arab Emirates, making a rare trip abroad as Moscow seeks to reassert itself on the global stage.

It is only the third trip the Russian leader has taken outside the former Soviet Union since he invaded Ukraine, following visits to Iran and China, and comes as Moscow seeks to bolster its influence in the Middle East.

Putin was seen greeting the country's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, before the two briefly sat down for televised talks.

"Nothing can prevent the development of our friendly relations," Putin told Prince Mohammed, inviting the Saudi royal to visit Moscow.

"It is very important for all of us to exchange information and assessments with you on what is happening in the region. Our meeting is certainly timely," Putin said.

Prince Mohammed said bilateral cooperation had "helped remove many tensions in the Middle East and contributed to enhancing security"  —  and would continue to do so in the future.

The Kremlin said ahead of the meeting that the two would discuss oil markets, as well as ways to promote de-escalation in the war in Gaza.

Since March, Putin has been wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court over the invasion of Ukraine.

He skipped the BRICS summit in August in South Africa, which recognises the ICC, to avoid causing a "political show", and missed the G20 summit in India in September.

But neither the UAE nor Saudi Arabia have signed the ICC's founding treaty, meaning they are not obliged to arrest him. 

'Unprecedented relations'

The Russian leader was earlier welcomed with a full cavalry escort and motorcade in the...

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