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Earlier this month, Emirati President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MbZ) met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg. Highlighting how Abu Dhabi is Moscow’s closest Gulf Arab partner, Putin described the bilateral relationship as “an important factor of stability…despite all the difficulties that exist in international relations today.”
Amid the recent further escalation in hostilities and tensions in Ukraine, there has been a flurry of shuttle diplomacy by countries including Turkey and Qatar. The UAE has joined them in offering its services to help facilitate a peaceful settlement.
The outcome of such efforts is unclear. But through these endeavors Abu Dhabi is determined to promote an image of itself as both a constructive mediator and a global actor, arguing that it is well-positioned to facilitate a path towards ending, or at least freezing, hostilities in Ukraine.
UAE on the international stage
Much of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) heft comes from its president. MbZ’s ability to balance close ties with both Moscow and the west illustrates the leverage the UAE has built on the international stage. Abu Dhabi is now attempting to use this influence in Ukraine. This helps push the view of both MbZ himself and of Abu Dhabi as neutral and substantial global players.
MbZ has lots of domestic support for these efforts. Emirati state media argued that the Oct. 11 St. Petersburg meeting “affirmed” Abu Dhabi’s efforts to bolster “the foundations of global peace and stability.” Many Emiratis believe the president is uniquely placed to lead...
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