Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Abu Dhabi on December 12, escorted by four Sukai-6 fighter jets, to meet with Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was greeted by Emirati fighter jets in the colors of the Russian flag. Immediately afterward, Putin flew to Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who praised Putin's visit for "lighting up" Riyadh.

After the visit, Putin will return to Moscow to meet with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who will visit on the 7th.

This series of diplomatic moves is extremely rare after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war in February 2022. Since being warranted for arrest for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, Putin has only visited China in person and has not left the former Soviet Union's sphere of influence, including Central Asian countries. This is also Putin's first visit to the Middle East since July 2.

In the UAE, Putin talked about bilateral trade and cooperation in the oil and gas industry between Russia and the UAE. Under the Western sanctions against Russia, the trade volume between Russia and the UAE increased by 68% last year, and many electronic products affected by the sanctions also used the UAE as a way to enter Russia.

On December 12, Putin met with President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates. (Reuters)

In Saudi Arabia, Putin and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also discussed OPEC+ oil supply cooperation.

After meeting last week, OPEC+ decided to voluntarily cut oil production by 220.130 million barrels per day, including a continuation of the 9.100 million barrel per day cut by Russia and Saudi Arabia. Oil prices fell from a high of nearly $74 a barrel in September to $<> today.

With Russia set to slash its military spending to one-third of government spending and 6% of GDP in the coming year, and Saudi Arabia's massive investment plan to keep its budget balanced at around $85, there are incentives for both sides to cooperate in raising oil prices – especially against the backdrop of the temporary lifting of sanctions on Venezuelan oil by the United States and the fact that countries such as Iraq have surpassed the OPEC+ production cap.

In Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, Putin also talked with the two sides about the state of affairs in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

Ahead of Raisi's visit on December 12, Iranian state media sources said that Raisi and Putin would focus on bilateral issues, including economic interactions, especially regional and international issues related to the situation in Gaza.

On December 12, Putin met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed. (Reuters)

It is worth noting that neither the Russia-Ukraine war nor the situation in Ukraine seems to be on the main agenda of these three summits. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (Dmitry Peskov) said on the 7th that Russia and Saudi Arabia are writing the outcome document of the meeting between the leaders of the two countries, on the one hand, it stated that it will not include peace initiatives, and on the other hand, it also stressed that the document will not talk about the situation in Ukraine, pointing out that the talks between the two sides focus on "bilateral relations and international outlook".

It is very likely that there will be no major cooperation agreements for these three meetings. Russian media reports have also focused on diplomatic pomp and confrontation with the West's diplomatic discourse, with gestures more important than reality.

From Russia's failure to win the blitzkrieg in Ukraine on February 2022, 2, to the successful counteroffensive of the Ukrainian army at the end of the year, to the mutiny of the Wagner Group at the end of June this year, the entire internal and external politics of Russia have been shrouded in the Russian-Ukrainian war.

But to this day, Ukraine's summer counteroffensive has clearly failed; Volodymyr Zelensky is switching from offensive to defensive; U.S. and European aid is increasingly thin; Russia has clearly achieved long-term superiority in manpower, material resources, arms production and supply, as well as high-tech applications (especially in unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic warfare), and as long as the international situation remains unchanged and the battlefield continues to be fought in the form of positional warfare and war of attrition, Russia is almost certain to win, and it is even possible to turn positional warfare into mobile warfare favorable to Russia in the spring of next year.

Just before and after Putin's visit, Zelensky was forced to cancel the closed-door video conference used to lobby the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. Senate Republicans vetoed the aid bill for Ukraine. He himself took a selfie on the streets of Kiev, insisting that Ukraine had no choice and encouraging his countrymen to unite until victory.

However, Kyiv's political scene is still shrouded in the specter of stalemate and political strife.

The situation at this moment can be regarded as a clarity not seen in the nearly 22 months of the war. The war on Ukrainian soil has also become the background of Russian diplomacy, and it is no longer the main plot.

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