A top Democratic senator is vowing to block all future weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and urging the Biden administration to “immediately freeze all aspects” of U.S. cooperation with the kingdom in response to its decision to cut oil production amid a global energy crisis set off by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The message from Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who has veto power over foreign arms sales, comes amid the West’s outrage at OPEC+ for slashing its oil output — a move that the U.S. and other allied governments saw as a gift to Moscow as it suffers significant losses on the battlefield in Ukraine.
U.S. officials were quietly urging Saudi Arabia to ramp up its oil production in order to boost the global supply and lower prices for consumers in the U.S. and Europe who have been hit hard as their governments moved to cut off Russian energy. Russia’s intensifying assault on Ukraine has tested the resolve of European nations that had previously relied heavily on Russia for their energy needs.
In a statement on Monday, Menendez said the decision helped to “underwrite” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.
“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,” Menendez said in a statement first obtained by POLITICO. “Enough is enough.” [Continue reading…]
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Rep. Ro Khanna, and Jeffrey Sonnenfeld write:
This week, Saudi Arabia colluded with Russia — deciding to cut 2 million barrels a day of oil production at the OPEC+ meeting, thus raising the price of gas to Russia’s advantage. The shocking move will worsen global inflation, undermine successful efforts in the U.S. to bring down the price of gas, and help fuel Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
The Saudi decision was a pointed blow to the U.S., but the U.S. also has a way to respond: It can promptly pause the massive transfer of American warfare technology into the eager hands of the Saudis. Simply put, America shouldn’t be providing such unlimited control of strategic defense systems to an apparent ally of our greatest enemy — nuclear bomb extortionist Vladmir Putin.
That is why we are proposing bicameral legislation in the Senate and House on Tuesday that will immediately halt all U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia. For several years now, our colleagues have been considering similar proposals, but those measures haven’t passed. Due to intense bipartisan blowback to Saudi’s collusion with Russia, we think this time is different. Based on our conversation with colleagues, our legislation is already garnering bipartisan support in both chambers. [Continue reading…]
President Biden will re-evaluate the relationship with Saudi Arabia after it teamed up with Russia to cut oil production in a move that bolstered President Vladimir V. Putin’s government and could raise gasoline prices in the United States just before midterm elections, a White House official said on Tuesday.
“Certainly in light of recent developments and OPEC Plus’s decision about oil production, the president believes that we should review the bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia and to take a look to see if that relationship is where it needs to be and that it is serving our national security interests,” the official, John F. Kirby, told reporters on a conference call.
Mr. Kirby, the strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council, signaled openness to retaliatory measures proposed by Democratic congressional leaders who were outraged by the oil production cut announced last week by OPEC Plus, the international cartel. Among other things, leading Democrats have proposed curbing security cooperation with Saudi Arabia, including arms sales, and stripping OPEC members of their legal immunity so they can be sued for violations of U.S. antitrust laws. [Continue reading…]