Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani has said that Qatar is reviewing its investments in Russia, and that it does not intend to make new investments at the moment. The move is a blow for Russia, which has seen many of its close business partners in the Gulf join western nations in condemning its invasion of Ukraine.
In an interview with CNN, Sheikh Mohammed said: “Qatar’s stand has been very, very clear: we are against any act of aggression or threatening of use of power or the use of power against a sovereign country or trying to undermine the territorial integrity of any country.”
On 29 March, the United Arab Emirates’ sovereign wealth fund – Mubadala Investment Company – also paused investments in Russia. The fund had closely co-operated with Russian partners and invested heavily in the country – from transportation infrastructure to real estate. In total, Mubadala has invested around $3bn in Russia.
In both cases, however, the decision to pause new investments appears to come as a result of necessity more than choice. Western sanctions on the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) make investing in Russia a complicated affair, and exposes third parties to heavy sanctions as well as reputational risk.
“Our investment decisions are based on commercial assessment, until we see a better atmosphere and more political stability we are not thinking about increasing that these days,” Sheikh Mohammed said of Qatar’s decision to suspend new projects in Russia.
Like the UAE, Qatar is trying to keep good relations with both Russia and Ukraine.
“Our world is interconnected,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “So whenever we see that we can offer our help and support for any efforts, we will not hesitate to make our offers. And this offer is extended to the Russians and to the Ukrainians in order to find a common ground and to help to put an end [to] this humanitarian catastrophe, and we will never give up on our efforts.”