Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation are not foes

Posted October 07, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted USA ally King Salman of Saudi Arabia for talks at the Kremlin this week, cementing a relationship that is pivotal for world oil prices and possibly signaling a shift in Middle East politics.

At the same time, Riyadh, in common with Israel, will raise with Moscow its concern that these zones may guarantee a long-term presence for Iranian and Hezbollah troops inside Syria.

Reports say the deals range from an arms deal worth $3bn (£2.3bn) to a $1bn energy investment fund.

King Salaman also told Putin Iran should stop meddling in Middle Eastern conflicts.

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During a meeting in Russia, Maduro said that he had arrived in Moscow at a great moment for political ties with Russia.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said agreements came in the fields of "energy - not only traditional but also nuclear power - and also in cooperation in space exploration (and) agroindustry and infrastructure projects". The two countries have targeted each other with diplomatic sanctions after America toughened sanctions on Russian Federation for alleged interference in last year's USA presidential election.

In a sign of the improving relationship, Saudi Arabia signed preliminary agreements with Russian Federation to buy S-400 air defence systems, as well as anti-tank weapons and multiple-rocket launchers, the Saudi Arabian Military Industries said. An oversupplied market past year, brought on by US oil production and OPEC members working to defend market shares with more output, helped pushed the price of oil below $30 per barrel.

The agreement was signed during the official visit of King Salman to Moscow. In 2015 the countries' sovereign wealth funds agreed to $10 billion in investments.

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"We are certain that the further strengthening of Russian-Saudi relations will have a positive impact on strengthening stability and security in the region and the world", Al-Jubeir said.

While Saudi Arabia made no firm pledge yesterday to extend the deal between the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), Russia and other producers on cutting supplies, it said it was "flexible" regarding Moscow's suggestion to prolong the pact until the end of next year.

Moscow attempts to "harmonize and approximate the differences among many factors and players;" so, "more and more Russian Federation is being trusted more than America", he noted.

There has been no immediate US reaction to the growing ties between Riyadh and Moscow.

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Much of the new activism is being driven by the king's modernising and ambitious son, Crown Prince Mohammed Ibn Salman, the de facto orchestrator of Saudi's high-risk foreign policy, including the military intervention in Yemen, and the trade boycott of Qatar, its onetime partner in the Gulf Co-operation Council. The visit of 100 business man is planned to make 25 agreements in different areas, while King Salman is expected to sign a $3.5 billion weapons purchase agreement.