United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan will travel to Russia on Tuesday to meet President Vladimir Putin with energy and war likely topping the agenda.
The announcement on the UAE’s state news agency WAM on Monday came less than a week after OPEC+, a group of oil producers that includes the UAE and Russia, agreed to steep cuts in oil production in defiance of US pressure.
It plans to slow production by two million barrels per day – its largest supply cut since 2020.
The presidents will also meet as the Russian invasion of Ukraine threatens world energy supplies.
“During his visit, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed will discuss with President Putin the friendly relations between the UAE and Russia along with a number of regional and international issues and developments of common interest,” the WAM report said.
The oil production cut by Saudi-led OPEC and its Russia-led allies has further strained relations between Washington and its traditional Gulf allies in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, sources say.
The White House suggested last week that it was reviewing its relationship with Saudi Arabia as it seeks ways to reduce OPEC’s control over energy prices.
Explosions have rocked Kyiv in the heaviest missile attacks on Ukraine’s capital since Russia launched its invasion.
President Putin says it’s retaliation for Crimea's damaged Kerch bridge ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/TeFJ2KB5RF
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 10, 2022
UAE Minister of Energy Suhail al-Mazroui has said the production cut was “technical, not political”.
US President Joe Biden’s administration had pushed hard to prevent it, hoping to keep a lid on petrol prices ahead of November’s elections, in which his Democratic Party could lose control of Congress.
Biden flew to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in July for a Gulf summit to try to mend relations with Saudi Arabia but left without securing a deal for higher oil production. Ties have been strained between the kingdom and the Biden administration since it took office.
The UAE has maintained a neutral stance towards Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Emirati presidential adviser Anwar Gargash said in March the Gulf state believes “taking sides would only lead to more violence”, and its priority was to “encourage all parties to resort to diplomatic action”.
The UAE is a longtime US ally, and its stance on the Ukraine conflict reflects an attempt to balance relations in a new world order under which Moscow and Beijing are equally important to the Gulf state, analysts say.
Meanwhile, the production cut by OPEC+ could spur a recovery in oil prices, which have dropped to about $90 a barrel from $120 months ago.
Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC+ have said they seek to prevent volatility rather than to target a particular oil price.
US officials are considering the release 10 million barrels of oil from the country’s strategic petroleum reserve next month to “protect American consumers and promote energy security”.