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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj (M.) meets the Governor of Riyadh, Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz

Photo: AFP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has arrived in Saudi Arabia for talks.

Zelensky said that a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was planned, among other things.

One topic of the visit will be the peace plan initiated by Zelensky for his country.

Zelensky was optimistic at the start of the working visit.

"We are about to hold the first peace summit and are counting on continued active support from Saudi Arabia," he wrote on Telegram.

Ukraine hopes to hold a summit in Switzerland in the spring.

Last April, Saudi Arabia hosted a meeting on the Ukraine war that was attended by representatives from nearly 40 countries, excluding Russia.

The return of Ukrainian prisoners of war from Russian captivity will also be discussed during the visit.

Saudi Arabia has already supported the exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia.

The current meeting will certainly bring results in this regard, writes Zelensky.

With the mediation of Saudi Arabia, more than 200 Ukrainian prisoners of war were released in September 2022.

Ukraine has been fending off a Russian invasion for more than two years.

The peace plan presented by Zelenskyj in autumn 2022 is based on a complete withdrawal of Russian troops from the country, reparations for war damage and the extradition of war criminals.

Russia continues to control almost a fifth of Ukrainian territory, including the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed in 2014.

While Zelensky was in Riyadh, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Russian units had captured several towns in eastern Ukraine.

"Last week, the Ukrainian armed forces were driven out of the towns of Pobyeda, Lastochkyne and Severne," he said at a ministry meeting in Moscow.

He estimated the Russian army's terrain gains since the beginning of the year at 327 square kilometers.

This corresponds roughly to the area of ​​the city of Bremen.

The Russian information could not be independently verified.

On Monday, the Ukrainian army admitted a withdrawal to new defensive positions west of the industrial city of Avdiivka, which was captured by Russia.

According to the group's spokesman in the southeast, Dmytro Lykhovy, the new line would run along the villages of Berdychi, Orlivka and Tonenke.