Interview of Ambassador of Ukraine to the KSA A.Petrenko for MENA Research and Studies Center on June 26, 2023
Link to the official website of the MRSC: https://mena-studies.org/interview-with-h-e-anatolii-petrenko-ukraines-ambassador-to-the-kingdom-of-saudi-arabia/
1. How would you describe the current dynamics in the Middle East, particularly regarding the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) role, and what key factors contributing to the evolving geopolitical landscape?
The turbulent developments we are witnessing today around the Middle East testify that the region is currently focused on solving deep-rooted problems and conflicts while preventing new ones from arising. And the 32-nd Summit of the League of Arab States, held on May 19th in Jeddah, has become a culmination point of this process. The group of Arab countries outlined the sore spots to be at the top of agenda. Palestinian, Sudanese, Syrian, Yemeni, Lebanese cases are among them. The state-parties emphasized the importance of strengthening joint Arab actions and highlighted the necessity of solidarity and cooperation in maintaining security, stability and protecting the sovereignty of the countries.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an obvious regional leader, convincing political actor and a rapidly-growing economy. The country is exerting maximum efforts to drain all insecurity and instability in the region while simultaneously establishing a security zone around the country to convert all resources and capacities into internal transformation according to ambitious Saudi Arabia`s Vision 2030.
2. What are the implications of Erdogan’s reelection in Türkiye for further regional dynamics?
Ukraine considers Türkiye as its important and vital partner. We are interested in stable and consistent development of the country and growing support to Ukraine. Likewise, we hope that the following term of Erdogan`s presidency will lead to strengthening Turkish alignment with Ukraine - in resisting russian aggression – and its participation in our state`s post war overall recovery.
3. How do you evaluate the implications of the KSA intention to get closer or even join the BRICS? How this may impact the balance in the region?
We are closely monitoring how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is studying and processing the options of future partnership with BRICS. Besides russia which is openly aggressive to our country, the organization consists of some members who do not maintain a pro-Ukrainian stance as well. Therefore, the conclusions to be made on the Kingdom`s relations with the BRICS will depend on how substantively the Saudi Arabia is going to develop relations with russia committing war crimes in Ukraine and those states who do not provide due political, security and economic support to Ukraine, especially within the current circumstances. We believe that the final political decisions of the Kingdom will be made on the basis of international law and its numerously proved commitment to the UN Charter provisions.
4. And as for Ukraine. Your Excellency, how could describe the bilateral relations between Ukraine and the KSA, especially in light of the 2022 Russian aggression against Ukraine?
We observe growing political synergy between Ukraine and Saudi Arabia, which is eloquently seen through Kingdom's commitment to key UNGA Resolutions in support of Ukraine, intensive political dialogue at the highest level, as well as joint intentions to implement the provisions of the Peace Formula on the basis of international law. The position of Saudi Arabia is upheld by its unprecedented humanitarian contribution into the relief of sufferings of the Ukrainian nation. The countries have also maintained a considerable level of trade and moved further with expanding the opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses of Ukraine to enter the Kingdom's market. We also look forward to instituting effective partnership with the Kingdom on the way to post-war economic recovery of Ukraine. Its potential and capacities will be a significant complement to common efforts on this track.
Along with that, today Ukraine needs a rock-solid coalition of partners devoted to effective restoration of peace and stability across the Globe. This will be achieved only by mutual efforts and collective actions. Sanctions regime which has been imposed on russia should be duly maintained and significantly widened. Saudi Arabia should ensure adherence to the restrictive measures introduced in response to russian blatant aggression and pay necessary attention to kremlin`s attempts to evade them. Also, OPEC+, its platform and capabilities, should not be employed by aggressive regime for financing further military actions on the territory of the peaceful state. The context of ongoing events gives a well-grounded basis for establishing a broad-scale cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Ukraine in defense sphere. While seeking for urgent security assistance, Ukraine is interested in practical implementation of recently concluded Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Kingdom: we have much to offer in terms of battle-tested expertise and experience.
5. The MENA countries often express their will to have a more neutral, non-aligned stance. How could describe the engagement of Russia with the regional powers and what your country can offer to counterbalance that influence?
Ukraine is meticulously monitoring and studying the political tendencies arising and circulating in the region. Every political statement is carefully assessed and diligently processed before a relevant action in response is worked out.
A prominent example of a proactive political position of our state is the first ever participation of a Ukrainian President in the Arab League Summit last month. The presence of Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the high-level event together with bilateral meetings conducted on its sidelines constitute a significant element of our foreign policy strategy, which is aimed at expanding the geopolitical presence of Ukraine in the Global South, strengthening its relations with the Arab world and attracting the support of the states of the Middle East and Africa in the context of countering the bloody aggression of the russian federation against our country. The initiative to open new embassies in wider region is aligned with our goals and ambitions on this track.
Ukraine has got leverages capable of neutralizing russian toxic influence in the region. The first is our humanitarian mission encompassing unwavering commitment to maintain food security and stability in the Middle East and African countries. The second element of our strategy is focused on providing international support to the countries bearing the burden of crisis or facing certain security threats, in particular within the UN forum or other international and regional platforms. The third leverage demonstrates Ukrainian competitive advantages in multiple spheres of economic dimension being invariably present for cooperation opportunities to come. Ukraine stands for equal capabilities for every state with all the conditions for progress secured.