As the Moscow-kyiv war escalates, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday discussed the “reason and goals” for the all-out invasion of Ukraine with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. During the phone conversation, Putin signaled that the attack, which he calls a “special military operation” against Ukraine, is aimed at “protecting” the people of Donbass, according to a statement released by the Kremlin. Expressing concern about the situation of civilians in Donbass, Putin also pointed out that the measures were initiated in response to a request for help from the heads of Donetsk and Luhansk.
“Vladimir Putin said [the King of Bahrain] on the reasons and objectives of the special military operation to defend Donbass, on measures to protect the civilian population and on Russia’s efforts during talks with Ukrainian representatives,” the Kremlin said in a statement, citing details of the phone call between Putin and the King of Bahrain.
The leaders also discussed bilateral relations between Russia and Bahrain in the fields of politics, trade and economy. They also covered other high-profile issues, including the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and “the successful use of Russian vaccines in the Kingdom.” Both Putin and the King of Bahrain have expressed their common interest in further maintaining the friendly ties between Moscow and Manama. “The Russian President and the King of Bahrain also agreed to continue their personal contacts,” the Kremlin statement added.
The meeting was held against the backdrop of the ongoing brutal war between Russia and Ukraine that has killed thousands in the former Soviet nation and displaced nearly 2 million people. The situation stems from Putin’s full invasion of Ukraine, announced on February 24. Previously, violating international law and the Minsk agreement, he also unilaterally identified two of Ukraine’s Donbass regions as “independent”.
Although Putin claimed that Russia posed no threat to Ukrainian territories and that the “special military operation” aimed to demilitarize the country, Russian troops invading Ukraine bombed countless civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and residential buildings. Russian forces also besieged strategic points like Mariupol, Kherson, Chernobyl and the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant and continued to march towards the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
Meanwhile, Western nations, including the European Union (EU), have continued to impose sweeping sanctions on Russia. The sanctions have hit Russia’s economic and financial sectors, with many Russian banks barred from SWIFT’s global banking services. Also, US-based mainstream brands like Starbucks, Nike, Apple Inc., etc. also suspended their activities in Russia. Seeing the colossal devastation and ensuing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, the transportation and hospitality industry, including Hyatt, Hilton, Boeing, Airbus, and many others, has also canceled future investments in Russia until until Moscow withdraws its troops from its former Soviet neighbor. On the sidelines, talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegates continued via videoconference with very little fruitful outcome.