Saudi Arabia to give Ukraine over €400million in humanitarian aid

Saudi Arabia has announced it will give over €400million in humanitarian aid for Ukraine, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly held a phone conversation with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

According to the Saudi SPA news agency, the prince emphasised “the Kingdom’s position of supporting everything that will contribute to de-escalation, and the Kingdom’s readiness to continue the efforts of mediation.”

Last month, Saudi Arabia played an unexpected role in facilitating a prisoner-of-war swap between Moscow and Kyiv.

The war in Ukraine has, however, fuelled tensions between Saudi Arabia and the United States after the kingdom largely resisted pressure to ramp up oil production to ease the energy crisis resulting from the conflict.

The kingdom has come under growing criticism from Washington after the Saudi-led OPEC group of oil exporters agreed on a drastic production cut with Russia and other allies, which could send energy prices soaring even higher.

Washington has accused OPEC+ of aligning itself with Moscow, and on Wednesday, President Joe Biden threatened “consequences” for Saudi Arabia.

Putin defiant in face of military set backs

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Moscow was “doing everything right” in its nearly eight-month invasion of Ukraine despite a string of embarrassing defeats against Kyiv’s forces, who will receive $725 million in new US military assistance.

Putin’s comments on Friday came hours after Kremlin-installed officials in the southern Kherson region urged residents to leave as Kyiv said its soldiers were advancing on the oblast’s main city.

Moscow also hinted at the extent of the damage dealt to the Crimea bridge – the sole land connection between its mainland and the annexed Ukrainian peninsula – following a blast last Saturday, saying it could take many months to complete repairs.

Washington increases aid to Ukraine

Putin also said there was no need for further massive strikes against Ukraine at present and claimed the Kremlin did not intend to destroy its pro-Western neighbour.

He spoke days after Russia unleashed a wave of missile strikes on cities across Ukraine that left at least 20 civilians dead.

This comes as Washington announced an additional $725 million in military assistance to Kyiv, including more ammunition for the Himars rocket systems that have been used by Ukraine to wreak havoc on Russian targets.

It brings the total US military assistance to Ukraine to $17.6 billion since the Russian invasion on 24 February. rfi

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