After appeasing Putin at UN, UAE says will grant visas to Ukrainians fleeing Russia's war

After appeasing Putin at UN, UAE says will grant visas to Ukrainians fleeing Russia's war
The UAE said Thursday that Ukrainians are eligible for visas on arrival in an apparent reversal of a decision to suspend visa waivers.
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The UAE has expressed a desire to stay 'neutral' over Russia's invasion of Ukraine [source: Getty]

The United Arab Emirates said Thursday that Ukraine nationals are eligible for visas on arrival in the Gulf Arab state, in an apparent u-turn over a decision to suspend visa waivers to Ukrainians as thousands flee Russia's invasion. 

Kyiv's embassy in the UAE said that Emirati authorities had temporarily suspended the waivers as of Tuesday, in a move that drew criticism of the Western-allied country as Europe opens its doors to Ukrainian refugees. 

The UAE has purportedly adopted a "neutral stance" on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has angered partners in Washington but ultimately served to maintain ties with the Kremlin

"Concerning reports on the issuance of advance visas to Ukrainian nationals to enter the UAE, HE Faisal Lutfi, Assistant Undersecretary for Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has announced that Ukrainian nationals continue to be eligible for visa on arrival to the UAE," the Emirati foreign ministry said in a statement.

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When approached by Reuters, a representative at the Ukrainian embassy said the mission was working on getting official confirmation from the UAE, the Middle East's tourism and commercial hub.

At the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, all six Gulf Arab states supported a vote to reprimand Russia for its invasion and demand Moscow withdraw its military forces.

This contrasts with a UAE decision last week to abstain from voting on a UN Security Council resolution deploring the invasion.

Some diplomats questioned the link between the UAE abstention and subsequent Russian approval of a Security Council vote to impose an arms embargo on Yemen's Houthi group, which is battling a Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE and has launched missiles and drones at the country.

Gulf states have tried to balance Western allies and Russia but face growing calls, including from key security ally the United States, for a global stand against the brutal Russian invasion. 

Many in Washington saw the UAE's stance in the UN last week as a betrayal of its long-standing relationship with the US.