One-year residency visa, Sheikh Mohamed visits Russia: 7 ways in which UAE provided aid, pushed for peace in Ukraine conflict

Today, February 24, will mark one year since the conflict began with Vladimir Putin announcing a military operation in the region

By Web Desk

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Thu 23 Feb 2023, 12:04 PM

Last updated: Fri 24 Feb 2023, 5:05 PM

February 24, 2023 marks the first anniversary of Russia's military operation in Ukraine. In the year that followed, the region has faced tremendous devastation and loss of life. The repercussions of the conflict spiralled throughout the world, causing widespread inflation and an energy crisis. Countries all across the globe pledged solidarity with Ukraine, sending millions in humanitarian aid and military support.

The UAE has pushed for peace in the region from the very beginning, with the President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, holding talks with both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging both sides to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Here are some of the ways in which the UAE has helped civilians in Ukraine, through humanitarian aid as well as high-level diplomatic talks:

1. Millions in humanitarian aid

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Back in March 2022, when the crisis had just begun, the UAE announced that $5 million in humanitarian assistance would be sent to aid civilians in Ukraine. The contribution was made to the United Nations’ Humanitarian Flash Appeal and the Regional Refugee Response Plan for Ukraine.

In October 2022, the UAE President ordered an additional $100 million in humanitarian be provided to Ukrainian civilians.

Reem bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, emphasised that Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed believes in the importance of solidarity in times of war and conflict, and this is what spurred the additional aid.

2. Food, medical supplies for Ukrainian refugees in neighbouring countries

The UAE also sent aid in the form of food and medical supplies to support Ukrainian refugees in Poland and Moldova.

By December 2022, the UAE had sent eight planes to Poland, Moldova and Bulgaria, carrying a total of 360 tonnes of food, medical aid, relief supplies, and shelter equipment.

Salem Ahmed Al Kaabi, the UAE Ambassador to Ukraine, reaffirmed the nation's keenness to contribute to the humanitarian relief effort, and to support and assist Ukrainian refugees.

3. Residency visa, visa on arrival for Ukrainians

In March 2022 it was announced that the UAE would continue to provide visas on arrival to Ukrainian passport holders.

The two countries have a mutual visa-free travel agreement.

The month after that, the Embassy of Ukraine in the UAE confirmed that citizens can opt for a one-year residency permit through Tasheel centres from April 12.

Stranded tourists who arrived in the UAE before the crisis would also be able to stay in the country for up to one year without being subject to overstay fines.

“Ukrainians who have been in the UAE for more than 30 + 10 days are exempt from paying fines for overstaying,” the statement said.

The procedure follows a 2018 resolution issued in the UAE to grant citizens of crisis-stricken countries and war zones an extendable one-year permit, offering them a chance to improve their living conditions until they are ready to return home.

4. Thousands of generators to help Ukraine during cold weather

The harsh, cold winter added to Ukraine's humanitarian crisis. The conflict had disrupted the country's energy infrastructure and caused power outages, causing civilians to weather the biting cold without heating.

The UAE announced in December 2022 that it would send about 2,500 household generators to cater to this need and improve the living conditions in the region. In December, 1,200 generators were transported, and the rest were sent in January.

5. Calls for diplomacy and peace

From March 2022 onwards, the UAE has called for peace in Ukraine, emphasising that diplomacy is the only way to end the conflict.

Just a few days after the conflict began, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed (who was the Crown Prince of the UAE at the time) said that the Emirates is doing everything in its power to encourage peaceful solutions to the Ukraine crisis. He made the remark in a talk with the Chancellor of Austria in March last year.

In September 2022, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. In the meeting, he stressed that the UAE is ready to support all efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

In the same month, Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, called for peace in Ukraine during a speech at a United Nations Security Council high-level briefing on Friday.

In November, Lana Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Political Affairs, issued a statement in support of using diplomacy for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. It reads as follows:

"Since the beginning of the crisis, the UAE has called for de-escalation and dialogue, and has supported all diplomatic initiatives in this regard. The UAE firmly believes that diplomacy remains the only viable way to end the crisis, and shares the international community's deep concerns about the repercussions of the current situation on civilians in and out of Ukraine, and regional and international peace, security and stability."

"In times of conflict, our collective responsibility is to leave no stone unturned towards identifying and pursuing paths that bring about a peaceful and swift resolution of crises."

6. Sheikh Mohamed holds talks with Zelensky

The UAE President has spoken to Ukrainian President Zelensky multiple times on the phone, stressing the UAE's support for peaceful solutions and any measures taken to accelerate peace efforts.

Back in March 2022, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, who was then Crown Prince of the UAE, discussed developments in Ukraine at the time with Zelensky.

"We must prioritise ensuring the safety of civilians and enhancing efforts and coordination between countries and humanitarian organisations to provide assistance to affected Ukrainian citizens," he said. Zelensky expressed his thanks and appreciation to the UAE for welcoming Ukrainian citizens and its efforts in facilitating their entry and providing urgent humanitarian aid since the crisis began.

Later in October, the two leaders discussed cooperation between the two countries and the importance of de-escalation and reducing tensions through dialogue and diplomatic solutions.

Sheikh Mohamed stressed that the UAE would exert all possible efforts to prevent the worsening of the crisis. He also underscored that the Ukraine crisis has a serious impact, not only on Ukraine and Russia but also on the rest of the world, as it poses challenges to the global economy and international peace and security.

The two heads of state also wished each other on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Ukraine, expressing their wishes for the two countries' relations to continue.

In January, the leaders again reviewed the latest developments in the Ukrainian crisis on a phone call.

The UAE President underscored the UAE's humanitarian approach which entails providing aid to all peoples of the world, stressing the UAE's support for all initiatives and efforts aimed at reaching a political solution that puts an end to the crisis and re-establishes security, stability and peace.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed also offered his condolences to President Zelenskyy over the death of Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky and a number of officials and civilians, who died in a helicopter crash.

The Ukrainian President in turn expressed his thanks and appreciation to Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed for the humanitarian support that the UAE continues to provide to the Ukrainian people, and for his active role in promoting peace.

7. Sheikh Mohamed's visit to Russia

In October 2022, it was announced that Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed would travel to Russia to meet with Putin, and that he would discuss relations between the two countries as well as global issues.

The two presidents met in Saint Petersburg, where the UAE President highlighted the importance of continuing to make unremitting efforts to find political solutions to crises and tensions, stressing the need for dialogue between all parties.

Later, the UAE foreign ministry said that Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed's visit to Russia aimed to help reach "effective political solutions" to the Ukrainian crisis.

The Ministry indicated that the bilateral talks between the UAE President and Putin would touch upon the latest developments related to the crisis in Ukraine, as the UAE seeks to reduce military escalation and humanitarian repercussions in the region.


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