Blinken noted a “positive change” in Saudi Arabia’s behavior

Blinken noted a "positive change" in Saudi Arabia's behavior

Saudi Arabia’s recent moves to help Ukraine and its vote at the United Nations condemning Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory are positive developments, but do not make up for OPEC+’s “wrong” decision to cut oil production, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Wednesday.

OPEC+, a group of oil producers that includes the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, announced plans to cut production despite lobbying from the United States, which opposed the move.

Speaking at a Bloomberg event Wednesday, Blinken stressed that Washington is going to review relations with Saudi Arabia “in a very prudent” manner to ensure that American interests are fully served.

However, the secretary of state added that since the OPEC+ decision, the United States has seen “some interesting” moves from Saudi Arabia.

Blinken specifically mentioned Riyadh’s decision to provide $400 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine and its vote at the United Nations General Assembly last week condemning Russia’s annexation of four partially occupied regions of Ukraine.

“These are positive developments. They don’t make up for the OPEC+ decision. But we’ll take it under advisement,” Blinken said.

The day after OPEC+ oil producers decided Oct. 12 to cut production despite U.S. objections, President Joe Biden, concerned about rising gasoline prices ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections, promised “consequences” for Saudi Arabia for siding with Russia and supporting oil production cuts.

White House spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that the National Security Council is considering “what options we would like to pursue” to consider possible consequences for Saudi Arabia in response to the decision to cut oil production.

Kirby told reporters that the United States has no intention of severing the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

The OPEC+ action undermines Western plans to limit the price of oil exported from Russia in response to the war with Ukraine. Some lawmakers want the United States to suspend arms sales to its longtime Middle Eastern ally.

The White House did not give a timeline for completing the policy review on Saudi Arabia, and Blinken also would not go into detail. He said the administration is consulting with members of Congress on the issue.