Saudi Arabia 'astonished' at claims it backs Russia over Ukraine, says Prince Khalid

Kingdom's Defence Minister says 'false accusations' following Opec+ plan to cut oil production have not come from Kyiv

Saudi Arabia's Prince Khalid bin Salman has said economic reasons were behind the decision by Opec+ to cut oil production. AFP
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Saudi Arabia is “astonished at accusations” that it has sided with Russia in the war with Ukraine, the kingdom's Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman has said.

Prince Khalid said such accusations were not made by the government of Ukraine and retweeted a message from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanking the kingdom for its assistance.

The accusations, Prince Khalid said, came after Opec+ voted to cut oil production in November, pushing up energy prices and drawing criticism from Washington.

“Although the Opec+ decision, which was taken unanimously, was due to purely economic reasons, some accused the kingdom of standing with Russia," Prince Khalid said.

"Iran is also a member of Opec, does this mean that the kingdom is standing with Iran as well?”

He later said on Twitter that Saudi Arabia was "astonished by the accusations" that the kingdom was standing with Russia in the war with Ukraine.

"It is telling that these false accusations did not come from the Ukrainian government," he said.

Mr Zelenskyy on Friday said he spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and thanked him for “supporting Ukraine's territorial integrity, resolution at the UN General Assembly”.

He said Saudi Arabia and Ukraine “agreed to interact in the release of prisoners of war” and on the provision of “macro-financial aid to Ukraine”.

Following the call, Saudi Arabia announced a $400 million humanitarian aid package.

Prince Mohammed said the kingdom was ready to support mediation and all that contributed to de-escalating the crisis between Ukraine and Russia.

Last month, Prince Mohammed helped to mediate the release of 10 people from five countries as part of an exchange of prisoners of war between Russia and Ukraine.

“The Crown Prince affirmed the kingdom’s keenness and support for all international efforts aimed at resolving the crisis politically and stressed the continuation of efforts to contribute to alleviating the humanitarian consequences resulting from it,” state media reported.

The comments following the Opec+ decision came as the body's Secretary General, Haitham Al Ghais, said the organisation took "a pre-emptive decision” that aimed to strike a balance between supply and demand.

He said slow economic growth reflects on oil demand and decisions were “purely technical”.

Last week, Opec+ announced it would cut its November output by two million barrels a day, its most significant production cut since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, which led to a jump in oil prices.

Saudi Arabia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan has said Opec+ members acted responsibly in their decision to cut production.

The move provoked criticism from the White House, which said it would review its relationship with the kingdom.

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the government “would first like to express its total rejection of these statements that are not based on facts, and which are based on portraying the Opec+ decision out of its purely economic context”.

Updated: October 17, 2022, 10:42 AM