The decision by Saudi-chaired OPEC+ to dramatically cut global oil production is tantamount to "moral and military support" for Russia's ongoing war against Ukraine, the White House said Thursday.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the decision is "certainly" a form of economic support for Russian President Vladimir Putin because it "allows him to continue to fund his war-making machine, and it certainly gave him, Mr. Putin, a sense of comfort here."
"What we're looking for, and we're gonna continue to look for, from the Saudis is to see is that is that the track they want to stay on? Do they want to say stay on the side of Russia? Do they want to continue to provide that kind of support, that tacit support to, the Russian's ability to continue to kill the Ukrainian people? That's what it comes down to," he said.
The comments come as Washington continues to fume at Saudi Arabia for its support for the cartel's 2 million barrel per day reduction, maintaining Riyadh worked behind the scenes to pressure the bloc's members to vote in favor of the decision knowing full well that it would benefit Russia.
OPEC+'s action has spiked oil prices globally, a major revenue stream for the Kremlin as the West and its allies attempt to crimp down on its ability to conduct the now eight-month war against Ukraine that it began in February.
Kirby said the US would continue to monitor developments out of OPEC+, as well as "any other statements and activities that the Saudis may choose to engage in with respect to the war in Ukraine."
Kirby welcomed Saudi Arabia's vote in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution Wednesday condemning Russia's annexation of four Ukrainian regions, but said "it doesn't erase the fact that the decision that OPEC+ made was unnecessary mathematically speaking."
"The country that benefits the most from this 2 million barrel cut is Russia because it does come down to supply and demand, and Russia obviously wants to keep the supply down so that demand drives the price up," he said. "We've been, I think, very candid and very clear about our concerns over this short-sighted regrettable decision."