Saudi Arabia will provide $400 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, the kingdom said Friday, as it faces fallout from its decision to side with Russia on a deal to cut oil production.
Saudi Arabia’s move on oil this month angered President Joe Biden and top U.S. lawmakers, who have called for a wholesale reevaluation of ties with Saudi Arabia. The United States has said that a rise in oil prices resulting from decreased production would increase Russia’s war chest and undermine global efforts to isolate Moscow.
The decision by Saudi Arabia, Russia, and other members of the OPEC+ energy group undercut the United States- and Europe-led attempts to choke off revenue from Moscow’s lucrative crude sales.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, spoke with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine on Friday and offered the aid to “alleviate the human suffering of the Ukrainian people,” according to the official Saudi Press Agency. Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter that Saudi Arabia would provide financial aid to Ukraine, but he did not specify the amount or the timing.
The two men also discussed the release of Ukrainian prisoners of war, Zelenskyy said. The Saudi crown prince played a part in a September prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine, during which some of the detainees were transferred to Saudi Arabia.
Zelenskyy also said he had thanked the crown prince for Saudi Arabia’s vote in the United Nations General Assembly this week to condemn Russia’s annexation of occupied territory in four regions of Ukraine. The largely symbolic resolution passed 143-5.
Biden has warned of consequences for the Saudi- and Russia-led oil deal that was announced on Oct. 5. The United States has threatened to block future arms sales to Saudi Arabia or to pass legislation allowing lawsuits for price fixing.
The kingdom has responded with public accusations that appeared to suggest that the United States was acting out of domestic political considerations, such as gas prices and November’s midterm elections, rather than concern for Ukraine’s interests.
(Author: Victoria Kim)/(c.2021 The New York Times Company)