Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez is urging the Biden administration to halt cooperation with Saudi Arabia, a key ally in the Middle East, after its decision to cut oil production, a move that could benefit Russia as its continues to wage war against Ukraine.
“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,” wrote Menendez, who represents New Jersey and serves as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He said the decision made by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+), a group of oil-exporting nations that includes Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq and Iran, would “help underwrite [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war.”
“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,” he wrote. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia chose the latter in a terrible decision driven by economic self-interest.”
Melendez said he will not “green-light” any cooperation with Saudi Arabia until it changes its decision. Other lawmakers have also voiced outrage at the move.
“What Saudi Arabia did to help Putin continue to wage his despicable, vicious war against Ukraine will long be remembered by Americans,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted last week. “We are looking at all the legislative tools to best deal with this appalling and deeply cynical action, including the NOPEC bill.”
Other Democrats have introduced legislation that would pull American troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates within 90 days of its passage in response to the OPEC decision.
The move to scale back oil production by 2 million barrels per day could result in a rise in gas prices, which could impact the upcoming midterm elections.