MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: Live updates-How Russia’s assault on Ukraine affects MidEast

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have an impact beyond Europe. Follow along for the latest updates affecting the Mideast region.

Feb. 24, 2022. – Al-Monitor StaffFebruary 24, 2022 —Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could develop into the largest state-on-state conflict Europe has seen since World War II. But the war’s effects will not be limited to the continent.

Middle Eastern states have deep ties with both sides in trade, tourism and defense. While North African countries like Egypt and Libya have military ties with Moscow, they also rely on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products. Russia’s leveraging of natural gas in the conflict also has turned the spotlight on Arab Gulf states as oil surged past $100 on Thursday for the first time since 2014.

Turkey lies at the geographic center of the conflict, as calls from Kiev grow for Ankara to close the straits to the Black Sea to Russia’s navy.

Follow along with the latest updates affecting the region:


6:50 p.m., Feb. 24: US rallies Arab Gulf allies over unified messaging on Ukraine

  • Top US diplomat Antony Blinkenspoke with his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan “about Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack against Ukraine and the importance of building a strong international response to support Ukrainian sovereignty through the UN Security Council,” per a US readout of the call.
  • Meanwhile, the State Department’s number-two official, Wendy Sherman, phoned her Saudi counterpart, Waleed Khereiji, to discuss the same issue, according to the US statement.

3:46 p.m., Feb. 24: Top US diplomat speaks with Turkey’s FM Cavusoglu by phone

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu today.
  • Blinken “thanked Turkey for its strong and vocal support in defense of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the State Department said in a statement.

12:30 p.m., Feb. 24: Lebanon condemns Russian invasion

  • Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry condemned Moscow’s attack and called on the Kremlin to “halt its military operation immediately and withdraw its forces” from Ukraine.
  • Beirut’s statement cited previous foreign invasions of Lebanon “which led to losses that were felt for many years.”
  • Syria’s government under President Bashar al-Assad, meanwhile, adopted Moscow’s stance and baselessly blamed Ukraine for triggering the conflict.

Read more here.

12:15 p.m., Feb. 24: US Pentagon chief speaks with Turkish counterpart Akar by phone

  • US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke on the phone with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on Thursday after Ankara said it had weighed Ukraine’s request to close the Turkish straits into the Black Sea to Russian ships.
  • The pair discussed “bilateral regional defense and security issues, especially the latest developments in Ukraine,” according to a statementreleased by the Turkish defense ministry.
  • A senior Pentagon officials speaking to reporters on the condition of anonymity later confirmed the call, but offered no details. A Pentagon statement on the conversation is expected to be released later today.

12:04 p.m., Feb. 24: Turkish, French presidents speak by phone

  • Turkey’s president spoke to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron about the situation in Ukraine.
  • Earlier today, Macron called for an emergency NATO summit “as soon as possible.”

11:00 a.m., Feb. 24: Egypt expresses “deep concern” over Ukraine developments

  • Egypt’s Foreign Ministry urged dialogue to resolve Russia’s moves against Ukraine in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
  • “Egypt is following with deep concern the successive developments regarding the situation in Ukraine, and affirms the importance of upholding dialogue and diplomatic solutions, as well as endeavors that would hasten the political settlement of the crisis,” a ministry statement read.

11:00 a.m., Feb. 24: Pentagon says Russia aims for regime change in Ukraine

  • The Kremlin “has every intention of basically decapitating Ukrainian leadership,” a senior US defense official told reporters Thursday morning.
  • Russia committed more than 100 missiles and about 75 fighter jets during the first wave of strikes last night, the official said.
  • Later today, the official said updated the number to roughly 160 Russian missiles fired into Ukraine.

10:10 a.m., Feb. 24: Turkey considers Ukraine’s request to close straits

  • A spokesperson for Turkey’s ruling political party said the government had weighed Kyiv’s request for Ankara to close the Turkish straits to Russian ships, but offered no clarity on a decision.
  • Turkey has “assessed all the scenarios” that could come from a decision to close the straits, and “will use its discretion in favor of peace instead of deepening the conflict,” AKP spokesperson Omer Celik said during a press conference.
  • “Preparations both legally and diplomatically have been concluded. We will continue to follow the process. We certainly don’t want tensions to escalate further,” Celik said.

Read more here.

9:51 a.m., Feb. 24: Israel’s PM softens tone on Ukraine invasion

  • Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennettavoided condemning Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in a speech on Thursday evening, taking a more cautious tone than Foreign Minister Yair Lapid did earlier today.
  • “These are difficult and tragic moments, and our hearts go out to the citizens of Ukraine who have fallen into this situation without injustice on their part,” Bennett said.

Read more here.

9:40 a.m., Feb. 24: Bomb hits Turkish civilian ship off Odessa, none hurt

  • Maritime authorities in Turkey said a bomb struck a Turkish-owned ship off the Ukrainian port city of Odessa on Thursday.
  • No one was reported hurt and the ship, the Yasa Jupiter, headed for Romanian waters.

6:20 a.m., Feb. 24: Egypt’s cabinet meets to discuss war’s impact on food imports, fuel prices and tourism

  • Egypt’s government convened a full cabinet meeting on Thursday to discuss preparations for expected impacts on wheat imports, global fuel prices and possible reductions in tourism revenues, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said today.

Read more here.

5:00 a.m., Feb. 24: Israel condemns Russia’s assault on Ukraine

  • Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid broke his country’s silence on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on Thursday, calling the attack “a serious violation of the international order.”
  • Analysts have speculated that Russia’s military leverage in Syria, where the Kremlin has turned a blind eye to Israeli airstrikes against Iran-backed militias, may lessen Tel Aviv’s responseto Moscow’s aggression in Europe.

Read our coverage here.

4:30 a.m., Feb. 24: All eyes on Gulf as oil, gas prices surge 

  • Brent crude oil broke $105 per barrelon Thursday after Russia launched attacks across Ukraine.
  • Futures for gas delivered in the Netherlands, a benchmark for European prices, jumped 30% today.
  • The Biden administration approached Qatar earlier this month about supplying gas to Europe amid an expected decline in Russian supplies. Doha’s energy minister suggested yesterday that his country could not adequately cover the deficit.

3:30 a.m., Feb. 24: Turkey’s president slams Russia’s invasion as “unacceptable”

  • Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Russia’s attack on Ukraine as “a violation of international law” and “unacceptable.”
  • Erdogan spoke with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on the phone this morning and reiterated support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

2:30 a.m., Feb. 24: Ukraine calls on Turkey to close straits to Black Sea

  • Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, called on Ankara to close the straits to the Black Sea to Russian ships.
  • Russia has more than 10 naval landing craft in the Black Sea and landed troops on Ukraine’s southern coast last night, Pentagon officials said.
  • Ankara can close the straits in wartime under the 1936 Montreux Convention.

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