Saudi Arabia and Ukraine strike a $400 million aid deal

February 27,2023 1046
Saudi Arabia and Ukraine strike a $400 million aid deal

The surprise visit of Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan to Kyiv on Sunday wound up in the signing of a memorandum of understanding and an agreement totaling $400 million in aid to Ukraine.

According to Arab News, the memorandum concerns the financing of oil derivatives worth $300 million as a grant submitted by the government of Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development.

The agreement is on a program of cooperation with the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine worth $100 million.

The foreign minister’s visit – the first since Ukraine and Saudi Arabia entered into diplomatic relations in 1993 –also included his meeting with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.

Arab News says the deal is the implementation of the pledge made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in October 2022 on providing an additional humanitarian aid package to Ukraine.

“The trip comes after Saudi Arabia was accused by the U.S. of siding with Russia in its year-old invasion of Ukraine through its oil policy,” Bloomberg comments. “Saudi Arabia steers the OPEC+ producers group with Moscow, and Washington has said its production cuts have been detrimental to the global economy. Saudi Arabia rejects this, saying its policy is aimed at balancing global oil markets and is not political. The rift soured U.S.-Saudi relations last year, but tensions have since eased.”

According to Yevhen Semenov, coordinator of the Ukrainian community in the United Arab Emirates, the visit is of significance for the entire region:

“The historic visit of Prince Faisal bin Farhan has not only formalized the provision of a $400 million aid package to Ukraine. It has also become a strong signal that reconfirms Saudi Arabia’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“Participation in the official delegation of Sultan bin Abdulrahman Al-Marshad, CEO of the Saudi Fund for Development, creates additional opportunities for future investments in Ukraine.

“Such a message from a country that is one of the most powerful economies and leaders of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf will have a significant impact on the entire Middle East region, where the variation of attitudes and visions is undoubtedly very different from Europe or North America.

“The coverage of this visit by the Middle East media and political bloggers confirms its importance and significantly improves the information background for Ukraine in general.

“Now, this open door needs to be fixed with mutual interests and cooperation.”

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