ABU DHABI — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday landed in the United Arab Emirates for a rare visit outside the former Soviet Union, as Moscow seeks to reassert itself on the global stage. Isolated by the West over the Ukraine war, Putin is courting allies in the Middle East, where he will discuss oil, trade and the Hamas-Israel conflict. “Vladimir Putin has arrived in the United Arab Emirates for a working visit,” the Kremlin said, before he was scheduled to travel onwards to Saudi Arabia. Russian state television showed UAE President Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other officials greeting Putin on the runway. Trade and oil will be on the agenda in the UAE, which is “Russia’s main economic partner in the Arab world”, according to a statement issued by the Kremlin ahead of the visit. Bilateral trade turnover between the two countries reached a record level $9b in 2022, the Kremlin said. Putin is expected to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman when he arrives in Saudi Arabia later Wednesday. This is only the Russian leader’s third trip outside the former Soviet Union since he invaded Ukraine, after visits to Iran and China. Putin has since March been wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court which has accused him of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children. Putin skipped the BRICS summit in South Africa in August to avoid causing a “political show” and missed the in-person flagship G20 summit in September.

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