Saudi Arabia announced that months-long attempt to facilitate the prisoner swap between Moscow and the west has reached an outcome. The prisoners find their way home through Riyadh.
By winning the release of foreign fighters imprisoned in Ukraine, Saudi Arabia has achieved a diplomatic success. According to observers, the action shows Western allies trying to isolate Moscow over the conflict there the significance of the crown prince’s connection with Moscow.
The idea might also enable Saudi Crown Prince to get closer to international reconciliation. Whether on purpose or not, the action might help him recover his image after Jamal Khashoggi‘s assassination in 2018 caused it to suffer.
Wednesday saw the release of 10 foreign nationals who Russia had imprisoned in Ukraine thanks to MBS’ intervention. There were two Americans and five Britons among those who were released.
Prince Mohammed’s finely honed relationships with Russian President Vladimir Putin appear to have made the move feasible. It happened at the same time as a Turley-mediated prisoner swap involving 215 nationals of Ukraine, 55 Russians or Russia-affiliated persons.
The cooperation between Riyadh and Moscow, according to a political analyst at Baker Institute, seems to have been a key factor in the choice of intermediary. “By sanctioning this mediation and delivering results, Mohammed bin Salman is able to present himself as capable of playing the role of regional statesman in a way that counters the narrative of the crown prince as an impulsive and disruptive actor,” Kristian Ulrichsen explained.
The 2018 murder of Khashoggi tarnished Bin Salman’s earlier reputation as a fearless reformist. Saudi operatives said to be close to MBS dismembered the Washington Post journalist at a consulate in Turkey.
Bin Salman claims he didn’t order Khashoggi to be killed, but he ultimately bears culpability because it occurred on his command.
Prisoner Swap; Riyadh Retains the Middle Stance
The Saudi Foreign Minister told reporters that Saudi Arabia’s support in the prisoner swap was driven by humanitarian concerns. The Crown Prince had not become engaged in order to restore his status, according to Prince Faisal bin Farhan.
That wasn’t taken into account. That’s a really cynical viewpoint, in my opinion, Prince Faisal claims. The kingdom desired a diplomatic resolution to the issue, he continued, and Riyadh was determined to work to make that happen.
According to Prince Faisal, the crown prince has been negotiating a prisoner exchange with Putin since five months ago. After then-British PM Boris Johnson’s trip to the country, he “recognized” the situation with the five British people. “His Royal Highness was able to convince President Putin that this is a humanitarian gesture that is worthwhile, and this is how we achieved this result,” Saudi foreign minister asserted.
A Croatian, a Moroccan, and a Swedish citizen were also released convicts who were brought to Riyadh on a Saudi jet where authorities queued up to receive them. Officials anticipate that American citizens Andy Huynh, 27, and Alexander Drueke, 39, both from Alabama, will depart Saudi Arabia soon.
The greatest oil producer in the world’s energy has seen its influence boost to both Washington and Moscow recently. Global energy markets are being disrupted by Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.
Leaders from around the world have rushed to Riyadh to demand more oil output. Saudi Arabia, though, hasn’t indicated much willingness to support the campaign to marginalize Russia. Cooperation between Riyadh and Putin has increased, even among OPEC+ oil producers.
The problems between Washington and Riyadh were highlighted by Joe Biden’s failure to get Saudi Arabian promises for an immediate increase in oil production during his visit two months ago.
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