Saudi Arabia insists Ukraine mediation not a post-Khashoggi PR stunt

Saudi Arabia insists Ukraine mediation not a post-Khashoggi PR stunt
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has dismissed speculation over the kingdom's involvement in a recent prisoner swap as 'cynical'.
2 min read
23 September, 2022
Adel al-Jubeir said the mediation dated back to April and was led by Saudi Arabia's crown prince [Getty]

Saudi Arabia has dismissed suggestions that its efforts to help release prisoners held by pro-Russia separatists were part of an attempt to rehabilitate its image after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, The Guardian reported on Friday.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey helped Russia and Ukraine reach a prisoner swap deal, which included the release of about a dozen foreign nationals.

"I think that’s a very cynical view," Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said when asked whether the kingdom had involved itself in order to repair relations with Western states. 

Among those released were five British citizens, two Americans, a Moroccan, a Croatian, and a Swedish national.

"What we saw, what the kingdom’s leadership saw, was an opportunity to achieve a humanitarian breakthrough to facilitate the return of these detainees to their families. And that’s the motivation," Jubeir said.

Jubeir said the mediation began in April and was led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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"We learned about the issue of these foreign detainees and he engaged with the UK and others and of course, with Russia and Ukraine, to work towards the end of getting them out," Jubeir said.

The murder of Saudi dissident and journalist Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul four years ago caused international outrage.

Saudi Arabia was cautious in its criticism of Russia when it invaded Ukraine earlier this year, drawing further Western criticism of Prince Mohammed's de-facto leadership of the country.

On Thursday, Prince Mohammed told Russian President Vladimir Putin his country would help mediate to bring an end to the war.

"The Crown Prince affirmed the Kingdom's readiness to... support all efforts to reach a political solution to the crisis with Ukraine," MbS told Putin in a telephone call, according to the Gulf state's Saudi Press Agency.

Putin thanked Saudi Arabia for its role in facilitating the deal, SPA said.