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10/11/2022 (Saudi Arabia) International Christian Concern – U.S. Senator and Chairman of the Senate on Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), recently released a statement calling for a freeze on U.S.-Saudi cooperation. In tandem with a deadly string of attacks across Ukraine over the weekend, Senator Menendez criticized Saudi Arabia’s contempt in the matter, claiming that the Kingdom’s recent agreement with OPEC+ to reduce daily oil production would bolster Russia and further finance Putin’s senseless war.

In his statement, Senator Menendez called for a “…freeze of 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.” The Senator also pledged to “…use all means at [his] disposal to accelerate support for the people of Ukraine” and to “…not green-light any cooperation with Riyadh until the Kingdom reassesses its position with respect to the war in Ukraine.” As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Menendez has significant power over foreign weapon sales.

The decision to reduce oil production was announced by OPEC+ last Wednesday, an intergovernmental organization comprised of the world’s leading petroleum producers. Given that Saudi Arabia and Russia are the world’s top two leading oil producers, the two remain de facto leaders of OPEC+, and their latest decision significantly underwrites Russia’s war on Ukraine. As resources become more limited and the revenue generated from crude sales increases, Russia is positioned to receive the financing that will enable its ongoing war against Ukraine. Furthermore, some have accused Russia of using tactics such as these in retaliation to countries that oppose its invasion of Ukraine by increasing gasoline prices and stifling the economy.

Other Members of Congress echoed Menendez’s concerns, including Representatives Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), Sean Casten (D-I.L.), and Susan Wild (D-P.A.), who issued a joint statement claiming that by “… significantly boosting global oil prices, OPEC’s decision appears designed to increase Russia’s oil export revenues, enabling Putin to continue his war crimes in Ukraine, and undercutting Western sanctions.

Saudi Arabia’s recent move driven by economic self-interest comes just three months after President Biden visited the Kingdom and fist-bumped Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. White House officials announced today that President Biden is re-evaluating U.S.-Saudi relations in light of the recent announcement.

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