By Riham Alkousaa and Alexander Cornwell
ABUDHABI – German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, visiting Gulf states to discuss long-term energy supplies, said on Monday they should not profit from global sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
“I’m not asking that they join the sanctions….but I ask not to be a profiteer of European and U.S. sanctions,” Habeck told reporters in the United Arab Emirates’ capital Abu Dhabi following a visit to Qatar.
He said he has not seen any evidence of sanctioned Russian wealth coming into the UAE, the region’s commercial hub which diplomats, company executives and financial sources have said has emerged as a safe haven for Russia’s rich.
The minister said he had spoken with Qatari officials about Russian wealth flowing into the country. Qatari authorities did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment.
Gulf states have tried to strike a balance between Western allies and Russia, with which they have energy and economic ties.
OPEC producers Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also resisted Western calls to use their spare oil output capacity to tame prices that surged as Russia’s invasion prompted fears of supply disruptions.
Russia is the largest supplier of gas to Germany and Habeck has launched several initiatives to lessen his country’s energy dependence on Moscow.
During his visit to Doha on Sunday, Germany said a long-term energy partnership had been clinched while Qatar said the two countries would re-engage and progress discussions on liquefied natural gas supplies.
In Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City, where Habeck toured a solar project, the minister said German firms would sign five memoranda of understanding concerning hydrogen research and development.
The German delegation is expected to hold talks with state oil firm ADNOC and the UAE energy minister.
Habeck said he would discuss Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s recent visit to the UAE, the first to an Arab state since the Syrian war began in 2011, and which comes amid strained ties between Abu Dhabi and Washington.