Zelensky to Oil Nations: Boost Output to Counter Putin Weaponizing Energy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on energy-rich countries including Qatar to increase their exports of oil and gas Saturday amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"The responsible states, in particular the state of Qatar, you are reliable and reputable suppliers of energy resources," Zelensky said via video at the Doha Forum in Qatar, according to the Associated Press. "And you can contribute to stabilizing the situation in Europe. There is much that can be done to restore justice."

The Ukrainian president added: "The future of Europe depends on your efforts. I urge you to increase energy production to make Russia understand that no state should use energy as a weapon and to blackmail the world."

His comments at the Doha Forum, an international event for world leaders and policymakers, come as Western nations have sanctioned Russia for its actions in Ukraine, which in return curbed its energy exports. In the wake of Russia's invasion, gas prices have climbed globally.

It's unclear, however, if the oil rich nations will heed Zelensky's call.

The AP reported that the head of the state-owned petroleum company Qatar Energy, Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, said Saturday that Qatar wouldn't likely be able to send more gas to Europe "immediately."

European nations have historically been deeply reliant on Russian energy. But earlier this month, the European Union announced that it sought to end its energy dependence on Russia.

Zelensky Urges Oil Nations to Boost Output
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on energy-rich countries to increase their production of oil and gas on Saturday. Above, Zelensky addresses Japan's parliament via video on March 23, in Tokyo. Pool

"We must become independent from Russian oil, coal and gas," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. "We simply cannot rely on a supplier who explicitly threatens us."

Before the invasion, the European Union bought around 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia, as well as 27 percent of its oil and 46 percent of its coal.

European nations including Germany, have taken steps to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and gas sources. Last week, Germany said that it had reached a deal on an energy partnership with Qatar to reduce its dependence on Russia. And in February, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the nation would stop the certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline days before Russia invaded its neighboring country.

On Wednesday, Scholz refused a request from Putin to pay for Russian gas deliveries with rubles. The Russian president said he would only require "so-called unfriendly countries" to pay in rubles, in a move likely aimed at increasing the value of the country's currency, which plummeted after the West imposed sanctions.