Saudi Support of Ukraine Doesn’t Compensate for OPEC+ Cut, Blinken Says

Saudi Arabia’s recent moves to provide aid to Ukraine and its vote at the United Nations condemning Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory are positive developments, but do not compensate for the “wrong” decision by OPEC+ to cut oil production, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Saudi Arabia made a recent pledge of $400 million in humanitarian aid for Ukraine, and also voted at the United Nations General Assembly last week to condemn Russia’s annexation of four partly occupied regions within Ukraine. 

Blinken acknowledged both of these developments, saying they were positive. 

“These are positive developments. They do not compensate for the decision that was made by OPEC+ on production. But we take note of that,” Blinken said at a Bloomberg News event.

OPEC+, or the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries plus allies including Russia, decided earlier this month to cut its oil production target by 2 million barrels per day.

The decision has been extremely controversial and has been criticized heavily by the United States government. It came after weeks of lobbying by U.S. government officials against such a move. 

The OPEC+ move undermines the U.S. and Western-allied countries’ plans to impose a cap on the price of Russian oil exports in response to Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Biden accused Saudi Arabia of siding with Russia by making the decision to slash output and vowed “there will be consequences” for the Saudi-U.S. relationship. 

Blinken repeated the U.S. position that Washington was going to re-evaluate the relationship with Saudi Arabia in a “very deliberate” fashion to make sure it better reflects American interests.

But he added that the United States has seen “a few interesting things” from Saudi Arabia since the OPEC+ decision. This includes the $400 million in humanitarian aid and the United Nations vote. 

At the White House, spokesperson John Kirby said the National Security Council is looking at “what options we would like to tee up” for Biden to consider in response to his vow to impose consequences against Saudi Arabia in response to the oil output cut.

Kirby said that the U.S. is not looking to rupture its relationship with Saudi Arabia.

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