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‘Vladimir Putin skirts Russia’s war zones for Middle East trip’

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NEW DELHI: In one of the rare trips abroad since the beginning of the Ukraine war, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Saudi Arabia Wednesday after visiting the United Arab Emirates.
This visit is one of only a few Putin has made outside the former Soviet Union since the Ukraine invasion, with previous trips including Iran and China, highlighting Moscow’s intent to strengthen its role in the Middle East.
During his visit, Putin met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss enhanced collaboration on oil prices, as members of the OPEC+ group. This meeting, as reported by a Kremlin spokesperson, reflects the ongoing coordination between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which the crown prince commended for easing tensions in the Middle East.
The discussions between Putin and the crown prince, who is effectively in charge of the world’s leading oil exporter, were organized swiftly after Putin’s visit to the UAE. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, as cited by Russian media, emphasized the continued cooperation within OPEC+, comprising the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia-led allies.
‘Putin skirts Russia’s war zones
Putin’s journey to two Arab nations was marked by a flight path that strategically avoided flying over several regions where Russia has been involved in conflicts in recent years.
As per a Newsweek report, radar data revealed that the plane, RA-96024, operated by Rossiya Airlines and known for transporting top officials, left Moscow just before 8:30pm ET on Tuesday. The aircraft initially headed southeast, disappearing from radar near Tula, about 200 miles from the Ukrainian border. When it reappeared on radar around 1:20am ET on Wednesday, it was near Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, and had notably circumvented Georgia by over a hundred miles. The plane then reportedly flew over Iran, avoiding Syrian airspace, before landing in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, shortly after 1pm local time.
The plane’s radar signal was offline while west of Ukraine, leaving its exact route during this part of the trip unclear. However, both before and after this period, it maintained a considerable distance from the Ukrainian border.
This avoidance comes in the context of Ukraine’s use of US-supplied ATACMS missiles since October, which have a range of 190 miles, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s expressed willingness to target Putin, citing Russian attempts on his life.
(With inputs from agencies)



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