JEDDAH: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused some Arab leaders of ignoring the horrors of Russia’s invasion of his country during a speech Friday at an Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia.
“Unfortunately, there are some in the world and here, among you, who turn a blind eye to those cages and illegal annexations,” Zelensky told summit attendees, urging them to “take an honest look” at the war.
Zelensky’s surprise trip to the summit in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah was his first to the Middle East since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
An Arab League official told AFP the invitation came from Saudi Arabia, not the bloc itself. Saudi officials did not respond to a request for comment.
The summit also marks the return to the Arab League of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a staunch Russian ally who was suspended in 2011 over his country’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, which led to civil war.
Zelensky highlighted how the war in Ukraine has affected Muslims in the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
“Crimea was the first to suffer under the Russian occupation and until now most of those who are subjected to repression in occupied Crimea are Muslims,” he said.
Zelensky also thanked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for supporting Ukraine’s “territorial integrity”, and called for unity “in saving people from the cages of Russian prison”.
Zelensky flew to Saudi Arabia on a French government plane arriving from Poland, the French ambassador to Saudi Arabia said on Twitter.