By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made a surprise video appearance on March 26 at Qatar’s Doha Forum, calling on the energy-rich nations to boost their output to prevent Moscow’s use of energy exports as a lever in relations with countries dependent on oil and gas imports.
“I ask you to increase the output of energy to ensure that everyone in Russia understands that no one can use energy as a weapon to blackmail the world,” Zelenskiy said.
Zelenskiy’s appeal was something particularly important for Qatar — a world leader in the export of natural gas. Western sanctions have deeply cut into Russian exports, which are crucial for European nations.
Zelenskiy 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 has already worried Middle Eastern nations like Egypt, which rely on those exports.