Ukraine’s health ministry said on Sunday that at least 198 Ukrainians have been killed.
Early on Thursday, people in Ukraine woke to sounds of airstrikes hitting their country, indicating the beginning of a full-scale Russian military invasion of the country.
The war launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin has forced many Ukrainians and residents to flee the country to neighbouring states, including Poland and Finland. Many are currently hiding in underground stations and bomb shelters as attacks continue, with Russia refusing to halt its offensive on the country.
Ukraine has declared martial law as President Volodymyr Zelensky vows to continue to fight back Russia.
The global response to the Russian invasion saw a split between those who condemned it, calling for a diplomatic resolution and those who expressed their support for Russia, including Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad and Belarus.
The Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) members have also responded to the latest escalations, with some leaders speaking to officials from Russia and Ukraine.
On Thursday, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani received a phone call from Ukraine’s President. The Qatari leader was amongst the first officials in the region to speak with Zelenskyy as the events unfolded.
Zelenskyy said that he received Qatar’s support as Sheikh Tamim urged all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and settle disputes through diplomatic means.
On the same day, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani expressed his country’s concern over the violent escalations between Russia and Ukraine.
This came during two separate phone calls he held with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba.
Sheikh Mohammed has “urged all parties to exercise restraint and resolve the dispute through constructive dialogue and diplomatic methods”. He further stressed the importance of peacefully settling international disputes.
Qatar has a significant regional and international role in conflict resolution and has long played an important mediating role between warring factions in conflicts around the world.
The Gulf state also has strong bilateral ties with both Russia and Ukraine, with various Qatari investments made in both countries.
The EU has previously turned to Qatar to fill gaps in energy supplies as countries in the region prepared for the event of an invasion.
The Indian embassy in Qatar announced on Thursday that passengers returning from Ukraine can transit in Doha, under an air bubble arrangement between the two countries.
Kuwait’s foreign ministry stressed the importance of respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and denounced the use of force in the country.
“[Kuwait] affirms its full support to international efforts aimed at calming situation, defusing escalation, promoting self-restraint and addressing international conflicts by peaceful means,” read a statement by Kuwait’s foreign ministry.
The country said they are following the situation with “concern and regret”. The Gulf state had suffered a similar ordeal in the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, between 1990 and 1991.
Whilst Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry has not issued a comment since Thursday, its deputy permanent representative to the UN, Abdulaziz Alateek, expressed the GCC’s support for international efforts in deescalating tensions on Wednesday.
Alateek’s comments came on behalf of the bloc, calling for political dialogue to find a solution to the escalations between Russia and Ukraine at the time. He further reiterated the importance of the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 2202, which was adopted in 2015.
The resolution called for the “withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under the monitoring of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)”.
The Kingdom has urged its citizens in Ukraine to reach out to the embassy in Kyiv.
“Considering the developments in Ukraine, the Kingdom’s embassy in Ukraine calls on all citizens who are present in Ukraine and who have not gotten in touch with the embassy during the past evacuation phase to communicate with the embassy as soon as possible,” read a foreign ministry statement on Thursday.
United Arab Emirates
On Saturday, the UAE told a UN Security Council meeting in New York that the developments in Ukraine “undermine regional and international peace and security”, without naming Russia as a perpetrator.
“The Ministry emphasised the importance of ensuring that humanitarian assistance reaches those in need, and called on all parties to respect International Humanitarian Law,” said the foreign ministry.
In the same event, the UAE’s UN Ambassador, Lana Nusseibeh, expressed her country’s “readiness to work with members of the Security Council to achieve de-escalation and the cessation of hostilities”.
On Friday, the UAE, China and India abstained in the vote for a UN resolution to condemn Russia’s invasion. The resolution was also vetoed by Russia.
The UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, is scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart in Moscow on Monday where they are expected to expand their bilateral ties.
This comes as the Gulf state moves towards normalising relations with Syria’s Bashar Al Assad regime, which is heavily backed by Russia.
Oman has not issued a statement on the latest developments in Ukraine.
The Omani foreign minister previously expressed its concerns over what it described as the “Ukrainian crisis” and the “repercussions of the escalation” in January.
“[Oman] appealed to countries and the international community to redouble diplomatic efforts to overcome the crisis in accordance with the principles of international law and humanitarian values,” the statement read. Not further official comments have been made since.
Whilst Bahrain has not commented on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it had previously voiced its support for the country’s territorial integrity in 2021, in which they stated that the country would prevent its companies from operating in an occupied Crimea.