Thursday, 14 November, 2019

Saudi visit showcases Putin's growing Middle East influence

Saudis ask Russia to probe oilfield attack | Article Russia, Saudi Arabia to ink US$700mil deal on aircraft leasing
Travis Berry | 15 October, 2019, 00:25

A forum will convene 300 Saudi and Russian CEOs.

RDIF declined to comment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (right) meet at the Saudi Royal palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Monday.

These tensions spiked last month after the attacks on Saudi oil facilities that halved the kingdom's crude output and set oil markets alight. Russian Federation and Iran back President Bashar al-Assad, while the Saudis support the opposition seeking his ouster.

Asked about concerns Riyadh was cozying up to Moscow, senior foreign ministry official Adel al-Jubeir said he saw no contradiction.

A year later, when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was under fire after the assassination of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, Vladimir Putin went out of his way to shake his hand at a G20 summit.

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Russian Federation considers coordination with Saudi Arabia as a necessary element to ensure security in the Middle East and North Africa, Putin said.

"We don't believe that having close ties with Russian Federation has any negative impact on our relationship with the United States", he told reporters on Sunday. In the intervening years, the Arab Spring roiled the wider Mideast as Putin would partner with Iran in backing Syrian President Bashar Assad in that country's still-raging war. It shows continuing warming ties between Russian Federation and the two Gulf States, which were traditionally Western allies with little ties to Moscow during the Cold War and who, until recently, maintained relatively modest trade links.

In October 2017, Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia also signed a memorandum of understanding paving the way for Riyadh's purchase of Moscow's powerful S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems.

The two sides are expected to sign more than $2 billion of deals, including a joint investment by state oil giant Saudi Aramco and Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund.

Moscow, the world's largest wheat exporter, made some progress in accessing the Saudi and Middle Eastern markets when the kingdom agreed in August to relax specifications for wheat imports, opening the door to Black Sea imports.

In addition, a statement of intent was signed between Russia's State Space Corporation Roscosmos and the Saudi Space Commission about cooperating in financing space exploration and the GLONASS global navigation satellite system.

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