A week after OPEC+ defied Western hopes and announced an output cut of 2 million barrels per day, the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, will visit Russia on Tuesday for bilateral talks.
According to the UAE foreign ministry, the President’s visit to Moscow is aimed at helping reach “effective political solutions” to the Ukrainian crisis.
UAE state news agency WAM said the visit “is part of the UAE’s continuous endeavor to contribute to achieving security and stability in the region and the world, and to enhance fruitful and constructive cooperation with regional and international powers, in addition to communicating with all parties concerned in the Ukraine crisis to help reach effective political solutions.”
The visit comes a week after the OPEC+ panel, proposed an output reduction of two million barrels of oil per day in an effort to combat decreasing prices in the energy sector leading to growing distrust between Washington and oil-producing Gulf countries.
Despite their long-term security relationship with the U.S., most of the Gulf Arab states chose not to align themselves with the U.S. and Europe to isolate and punish Russia.
The UAE, which has not imposed sanctions on Russia, even abstained from a U.S.-drafted resolution submitted the day after the Russian invasion, justifying the move by saying, “taking sides will only lead to more violence.”
The UAE is also a key destination for wealthy Russians seeking to escape the sanctions and an unfavorable economic climate in Russia due to the war.
With the U.S. midterm elections less than a month away and European allies facing the prospect of sociopolitical turbulence due to soaring energy prices, U.S. President Joe Biden has pressed OPEC+ not to implement production cuts.
Reacting sharply to the OPEC+ decision, the White House said in a statement, “The president is disappointed by the shortsighted decision by OPEC+ to cut production quotas while the global economy is dealing with the continued negative impact of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.”
With President Biden having pushed OPEC+ to boost output, U.S. officials desperately tried to discourage the production cuts. Despite criticism from human rights groups, Biden had even visited Saudi Arabia in July hoping to work out an increase in oil production.
The White House is now consulting with Congress “on additional tools and authorities to reduce OPEC’s control over energy prices.” In May of this year, the U.S. Senate approved the No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act, which could open OPEC member states and their partners to antitrust lawsuits for “orchestrating supply cuts that raise global crude prices.”
The bipartisan legislation would modify U.S. antitrust law to revoke the sovereign immunity that protects sovereign states from lawsuits. This, in turn, would give the U.S. attorney general the ability to sue OPEC+ members like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, or Russia in federal court.
With reports that Saudi Arabia and Russia are working closely to manage oil markets, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on Monday urged the U.S. government to freeze its cooperation with Riyadh due to that nation’s decision to cut oil production, which is likely to benefit the Russian economy as it wages its war against Ukraine.
Menendez said the U.S. must immediately freeze all aspects of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia, adding that the “terrible” decision made by OPEC+, an organization made up of countries including Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq and Iran that export oil, would “help underwrite Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s war.”
“There simply is no room to play both sides of this conflict – either you support the rest of the free world in trying to stop a war criminal from violently wiping an entire country off of the map, or you support him,” he said in a statement.
“Enough is enough,” Senator Menendez said as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, adding, he will “not green-light any cooperation with Riyadh until the Kingdom reassesses its position with respect to the war in Ukraine.”