Saudi Arabia's recent Ukraine support does not make up for Opec+ cuts, Blinken says

Secretary of state says Washington will re-evaluate its relationship with Riyadh in a 'very deliberate' fashion

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington. Reuters
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Saudi Arabia's recent moves to provide aid to Ukraine and its vote at the UN condemning Russia's annexation of Ukrainian territory are positive developments, but do not compensate for the “wrong” decision by Opec+ to cut oil production, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

Opec+, the group of nations comprising the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries plus others including Russia, announced the production target after weeks of lobbying by US officials against such a move.

At an event organised by Bloomberg, Mr Blinken repeated the US position that Washington was going to re-evaluate its relationship with Saudi Arabia in a “very deliberate” fashion to make sure it better reflects American interests.

But Mr Blinken said the US had seen “a few interesting things” from Saudi Arabia since the Opec+ decision.

He specifically referred to Riyadh's decision to provide $400 million in humanitarian aid to Kyiv and its vote at the UN General Assembly last week condemning Russia's annexation of four occupied regions of Ukraine.

“These are positive developments," Mr Blinken said. "They don't compensate for the decision that was made by Opec+ … But we'll take note of that."

A day after the October 12 decision by Opec+ oil producers to impose output cuts, US President Joe Biden, concerned that petrol prices will surge before the November 8 midterm elections, pledged to impose “consequences” on Saudi Arabia for siding with Russia in supporting the cuts.

The Opec+ move hampers western countries' plans to impose a cap on the price of Russian oil exports in response to Moscow's war in Ukraine.

Some members of Congress want the US to suspend arms sales to the long-time Middle East ally.

The White House has given no timeline for completing a policy review on Saudi Arabia, and Mr Blinken did not offer one either.

He said the administration was consulting with members of the Congress on the issue.

Updated: October 26, 2022, 8:12 PM