Earlier reports stated that the Biden Administration has been in talks with Qatar to supply Europe with gas in the event of a Russian invasion in Ukraine.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, and his US counterpart, Secretary Antony Blinken, discussed the latest developments regarding mounting Russia-Ukraine tensions in a phone call on Monday.
According to Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the two diplomats “reviewed the strategic bilateral relations” between Doha and Washington and ways to develop them, whilst touching on key political developments in the region and beyond.
“Secretary Blinken and the Foreign Minister also discussed Russia’s unprovoked military buildup near Ukraine’s borders,” read a statement by US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.
The two officials further tapped into the latest developments in Afghanistan, affirming the importance of continuing to assist a safe passage for American citizens from Kabul.
“The Secretary and Foreign Minister discussed cooperation to promptly resume relocation flights from Kabul and provide lifesaving economic and humanitarian needs to the people of Afghanistan,” added Price.
The ongoing talks in Vienna with Western powers and Iran aimed at reviving the historic 2015 nuclear accord, were also brought up in the conversation between Al-Thani and Blinken.
The latest discussion between the Qatari and US diplomats come following reports claiming that the two countries have been in talks over the Gulf state’s ability to provide Europe with liquified natural gas (LNG), in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Two sources told Bloomberg that US President Joe Biden is also planning on inviting Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to visit the White House this month, noting that the meeting has been in the works for some time.
Concerns over gas security
The past months have been witnessing a rise of tensions between Russia and Ukraine, leading to heightened concerns over a possible Russian invasion in Kyiv.
Fears over an invasion increased particularly late last year as Russia was seen dispatching its troops on its border with Ukraine.
Despite Russia denying plans of a military assault on Ukraine, the US President directed the shipment of almost 200,000 pounds of lethal aid, “including ammunition”, to Kyiv on Saturday.
In Europe, countries have been raising concerns over the impact of an invasion on their gas supply, given that they receive more than 40% of their gas from Russia whilst almost a third of the shipments pass through Ukraine.
Possible US sanctions being imposed on Russia could also heavily impact Moscow’s supplies to the nations during the winter season.
On Monday, former Qatari former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani—commonly known as “HBJ”—weighed in on the latest developments between Russia and Ukraine.
الوضع المتوتر في أوكرانيا وحولها يدعونا للتساؤل، هل سيكون هناك اجتياح روسي لأوكرانيا أم إن ما يحدث مجرد رقصة على طرف الطاولة؟ وما هي العواقب التي ستترتب على روسيا وأميركا إذا وقع الاجتياح؟
— حمد بن جاسم بن جبر (@hamadjjalthani) January 24, 2022
“The tense situation in and around Ukraine calls us to wonder, is there going to be a Russian invasion of Ukraine or if what is happening is merely ‘a dance on the edge of the table’? What would the consequences be for Russia and the US if the invasion takes place?” asked HBJ in a Twitter thread.
The former foreign minister predicted that the invasion would impact Washington’s energy sector and lead to a hike in gas prices, which would in turn affect the Democratic Party during the midterm congressional elections in November.
“Therefore, America will have to deal with the major oil-producing countries to secure increased production, especially countries that can increase production,” added the Qatari politician, without mentioning specific nations.
He stated that gas exporting countries in the region would also adjust their ties with the US and utilise the situation to achieve their own “political gains, particularly with regards to the Iranian nuclear file”.
Commenting on the impact on Russia, HBJ further noted that the invasion would lead to the country’s political isolation and harsh economic sanctions, despite being able to use the rise in gas prices to its advantage based on the global demand.
According to global energy company Gazprom, Russia’s overall LNG exports to Europe reached 174.9 billion cubic meters in 2020, with Germany accounting for most of its exports, receiving 45.84 billion cubic meters of LNG.