Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev’s visit to Riyadh comes just days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered a speech at the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea port city of Jeddah on Friday. The visit underscores how traditional US security clients Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states have maintained their ties with Russia during the war in Ukraine.
Kolokoltsev met with Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud, state-run Saudi news agency reported.
“During the meeting, in addition to discussing a number of issues of common interest, the two sides also discussed ways to strengthen security cooperation pathways between the two interior ministries,” the report said, without elaborating.
Russian media did not immediately report on the visit.
Kolokoltsev, 62, has been sanctioned by the United States since 2018 as part of a series of sanctions against Russia’s activities in both Syria and Ukraine. The U.S. Treasury Department announced that Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand and the U.K. have also imposed sanctions on Kolokoltsev. The US also refused visas to attend the 2022 UN Police Chiefs Summit, which Moscow criticized.
As interior minister, Kolokoltsev has cracked down on Russia’s independent media, including targeting the media “Proekt”, which is preparing to publish an investigation into his wealth allegations in 2021. Police have also helped quell attempted demonstrations in Russia after President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
Since the start of the Ukraine war, oil giant Saudi Arabia has been buying Russian diesel fuel at deep discounts because of Western sanctions against Moscow. This diesel was cheaper than the fuel the Saudis use while exporting their crude oil products abroad to take advantage of world prices.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the influential 37-year-old son of the Saudi King, is also trying to position the Kingdom as a potential negotiating partner between Kiev and Moscow to end the war.
“Saudi Arabia continues to mediate between Russia and Ukraine and stands ready to support all international efforts to end the crisis politically towards peace,” the prince said at the Arab League summit on Friday.
Follow John Gambrel on Twitter at www.twitter.com/John Gambrel AP.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/saudi-arabia-ap-ukraine-moscow-russia-b2343991.html Official Russian Interior Minister visits Saudi Arabia shortly after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit