Ukraine’s president made a surprise video appearance Saturday at Qatar’s Doha Forum, calling on the energy-rich nation and others to boost their production to counteract the loss of Russian energy supplies.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the United Nations and world powers to come to his aid, as he has in a series of other addresses given around the world since the start of the war Feb. 24. He compared Russia’s destruction of the port city of Mariupol to the Syrian and Russian destruction wrought on the city of Aleppo in the Syrian war.
“They are destroying our ports,” Zelenskyy said. “The absence of exports from Ukraine will deal a blow to countries worldwide.” The loss of Ukrainian wheat already has worried Mideast nations like Egypt, which relies on those exports. Zelenskyy called on countries to increase their exports of energy — something particularly important as Qatar is a world leader in the export of natural gas.
He criticised Russia for what he described as threatening the world with its nuclear weapons, raising the possibility of tactical nuclear weapons being used on the battlefield. “Russia is deliberating bragging they can destroy with nuclear weapons, not only a certain country but the entire planet,” Zelenskyy said.
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He also noted that Muslims in Ukraine would have to fight during the upcoming holy fasting month of Ramadan.
“We have to ensure this sacred month of Ramadan is not overshadowed by the misery of people in Ukraine,” he said.
Qatar’s ruling emir meanwhile criticised Israel for its treatment of Palestinians over the last 70 years, urging the world to stand against a growing global militarisation that found its peak in Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani sought to draw a line between anti-Semitism and the ability to criticise Israel for occupying lands that Palestinians hope to have a state of their own. Sheikh Tamim’s comments come as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in 2020 regularised diplomatic relations with Israel. “It is noteworthy here that the accusation of anti-Semitism is now used wrongly against everyone who criticises Israel’s policies, and this impinges on the struggle against racism and actual anti-Semitism,” Sheikh Tamim said at the start of the forum. “While stressing solidarity, I would like in this context to remind of the millions of Palestinians who have been suffering from the Israeli occupation and international neglect for more than seven decades,” he added. ”Similarly, there are a lot of other people, such as the Syrian people and the Afghan people, for whom the international community has failed to render justice.” There was no immediate response from Israel. However, Israel and Qatar have discussed reducing tensions in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Qatar, which supports Islamist groups across the region, has stepped in to provide humanitarian aid, including cash-filled suitcases shipped to Gaza with Israel’s permission.
Qatar’s support of Islamists saw it become the target of a yearslong boycott by four Arab nations during President Donald Trump’s time in office. That boycott ended just before President Joe Biden took office in 2021.