Saudi Arabia Peace Talks Did Not Include Russia

Last weekend, senior officials from about 40 countries participated in high-level talks on Ukraine hosted by Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported.

The two-day talks, which included officials from the United States, India, and China, yielded little progress in ending the war in Ukraine but were part of Kyiv’s effort to expand its support beyond its Western allies to include countries from the global south that have thus far remained neutral in the war.

While Russia did not attend, Moscow said last week that it would be monitoring the talks.

China’s special envoy for Eurasian Affairs Li Hui attended the weekend talks. Beijing maintains close diplomatic and economic ties with Moscow despite the ongoing war and has resisted calls to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

In a phone call with Russian Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reassured Moscow that Beijing remains an “objective and rational voice” and would maintain its neutrality, NBC News reported.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova dismissed the Saudi-hosted meeting, saying the talks were “nothing but a meaningless ultimatum to Russia” designed to prolong the war.

International officials said no direct peace talks between Russia and Ukraine are expected while the war continues to rage.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters on Wednesday that the US does not expect the weekend talks to generate “concrete deliverables.” Instead, the talks were designed to give “a number of countries around the world” to hear directly from Ukraine about the “horrors” Russia has inflicted on the country.

An EU official told Reuters that the talks were positive and there was consensus that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity should be at the heart of any potential peace agreement.

In a statement last Sunday, President Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak described the talks as “very productive.”