May 19, 2023 - World

Zelensky attends Saudi-hosted Arab summit before heading to Japan for G7

Zelensky holds a press conference. Photo: Yurii Stefanyak/Global Images Ukraine via Getty

Zelensky holds a press conference. Photo: Yurii Stefanyak/Global Images Ukraine via Getty

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday to attend the Arab League summit, before an expected appearance at the G7 summit in Japan this weekend.

The big picture: Zelensky's arrival in Jeddah is his latest foreign trip as he seeks to secure weapons and other aid to replenish his country's depleted stockpile. He had just finished a three-day European tour.

  • Wealthy Gulf countries have provided aid to Kyiv, but have also tried to take a more cautious approach to the war due to their ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • Saudi Arabia, in particular, has attempted to position itself as a mediator. Last September, the Gulf kingdom and its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman mediated a rare prisoner swap between Kyiv and Moscow, which included two U.S. veterans who had gone to Ukraine to help fight against Russia.

What they're saying: Saudi Arabia "plays a significant role and we are ready to take our cooperation to a new level," Zelensky tweeted after arriving in Jeddah.

  • He said he was there to discuss a number of issues, including "political prisoners in Crimea and temporarily occupied territories, the return of our people, Peace Formula, energy cooperation."

Between the lines: Friday's Arab League summit includes the participation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the first time in more than a decade.

  • Assad has been heavily backed by Russia during the country's 12-year civil war.

What to watch: Zelensky is expected to attend the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on Sunday, per AP, citing Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council secretary Oleksiy Danilov.

  • “We were sure that our president would be where Ukraine needed him, in any part of the world, to solve the issue of stability of our country,” Danilov said Friday on national television, per AP. “There will be very important matters decided there, so physical presence is a crucial thing to defend our interests.”
Go deeper