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U.S. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who is chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blasted Saudi Arabia for leading the OPEC+ group into announcing a cut in oil production and called for an “immediate” freezing of U.S. cooperation with the Kingdom, including arms sales.
In a statement on the future of the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia following the deadly Russian attacks on cities across Ukraine on Monday, Senator Menendez said, “I pledge to use all means at my disposal to accelerate support for the people of Ukraine and to starve Russia’s war machine. That is why I also must speak out against the government of Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to help underwrite Putin’s war through the OPEC+ cartel.”
“There simply is no room to play both sides of this conflict – either you support the rest of the free world in trying to stop a war criminal from violently wiping off an entire country off of the map, or you support him. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia chose the latter in a terrible decision driven by economic self-interest,” Menendez added.
Last week, OPEC+ announced the biggest cut to its collective target since 2020. Despite insistence from Russia and all of OPEC+ that the production cut is based on technical market assessments and is aimed at “stability,” many analysts, as well as the White House, see the move as a political one.
The United States is considering “response options” in its relations with OPEC+ members and its de facto leader Saudi Arabia, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after the group announced the cut.
“As to the relationship going forward, we’re reviewing a number of response options. We’re consulting closely with Congress,” Secretary Blinken said last week.
Senator Menendez expressed on Monday his views on future cooperation with Saudi Arabia, saying “The United States must immediately freeze all aspects of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia, including any arms sales and security cooperation beyond what is absolutely necessary to defend U.S. personnel and interests.”
“As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will not green-light any cooperation with Riyadh until the Kingdom reassesses its position with respect to the war in Ukraine. Enough is enough,” he added.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.