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Ukrainian president makes surprise appearance at Doha Forum

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a surprise video appearance at the Doha Forum in Qatar

DOHA, Qatar — Ukraine’s president made a surprise video appearance Saturday at the Doha Forum in Qatar, calling on the energy-rich country and others to increase production to counter the loss of Russian energy supplies.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the United Nations and world powers to come to his aid, as he has done in a series of other speeches around the world since the war began on February 24. He compared Russia’s destruction of the port city of Mariupol to the Syrian and Russian destruction of the city of Aleppo during the Syrian war.

“They are destroying our ports,” Zelenskyy said. “The lack of exports from Ukraine will be a blow to countries around the world.”

The loss of Ukrainian wheat has already worried Middle Eastern countries like Egypt, which depends on these exports.

Zelenskyy called on countries to increase their energy exports, which is particularly important as Qatar is a world leader in the export of natural gas.

He criticized Russia for what he described as threatening the world with its nuclear weapons, raising the possibility of tactical nuclear weapons being used on the battlefield.

“Russia deliberately brags that it can destroy with nuclear weapons not only a certain country but the entire planet,” Zelenskyy said.

He also noted that Muslims in Ukraine are expected to fight during the upcoming holy fasting month of Ramadan.

“We must ensure that this holy month of Ramadan is not overshadowed by the misery of Ukrainians,” he said.

Qatar’s ruling emir meanwhile criticized Israel for its treatment of Palestinians over the past 70 years, urging the world to oppose growing global militarization that has peaked in Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani sought to draw a line between anti-Semitism and the ability to criticize Israel for occupying land that Palestinians hope for their own state. Sheikh Tamim’s comments come as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates regularized diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020.

“It should be noted here that the accusation of anti-Semitism is now being misused against anyone who criticizes Israel’s policies, and this impinges on the fight against racism and real anti-Semitism,” Sheikh Tamim told the beginning of the forum.

“While emphasizing solidarity, I would like in this context to remind the millions of Palestinians who have suffered under Israeli occupation and international neglect for more than seven decades,” he added. “Similarly, there are many other people, like the Syrian people and the Afghan people, for whom the international community has failed to provide justice.

There was no immediate response from Israel.

However, Israel and Qatar have discussed reducing tensions in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Qatar, which supports Islamist groups across the region, stepped in to provide humanitarian aid, including suitcases full of cash sent to Gaza courtesy of Israel.

Qatar’s support for Islamists saw it become the target of a year-long boycott by four Arab countries during President Donald Trump’s tenure. This boycott ended just before President Joe Biden took office in 2021.


Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed to this report.


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ABC News

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