Friday, 20 October, 2017

Saudi-Russian Military Deals including Air Defense, Anti-Tank Missiles

Wilma Wheeler | 09 October, 2017, 00:35

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.

Photos show Putin personally pour a cup of tea for his royal guest at the Kremlin Palace.

King Salman's son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, visited Russian Federation in May just before his elevation to crown prince.

Russian Federation is rolling out the red carpet for King Salman of Saudi Arabia this week, with the monarch leading a high-profile and highly significant delegation to Moscow that will see billions of dollars' worth of joint investment deals.

On Saturday, Saudi minister of environment, water and agriculture Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al Fadhli met with his Russian counterpart, Aleksandr Tkachev, the official Saudi Press Agency (Spa) said. That marked a shift for the kingdom, which buys most of its military supplies from the United States and Britain.

Saudi Arabia is at war with Iranian-allied rebel fighters in Yemen and is embroiled in a diplomatic standoff with Qatar, which has found support from Tehran. Saudi Arabia seeks to continue cooperation with Russian Federation for achievement of stability on global oil markets, he said.

Following the meeting in the Russian capital, the two countries launched a joint energy investment fund worth $1 billion, while Saudi state oil firm Aramco penned preliminary agreements on oil refining with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Russian resources group Sibur.

Saudi King Salman may seek assurances from Moscow that Iran will not have a permanent role in Syria. This leaves Moscow aligned with Saudi Arabia's arch-rival Iran, whose influence Riyadh fears is growing in the region.

With the performance of Russian weapons coming in for praise in Syria, Saudi Arabia could be looking beyond its long traditional procurement sources of the USA and Western Europe.

Saudi-U.S. ties were strained under the Obama administration over its backing of a nuclear agreement with Iran and its handling of the Syrian conflict.

A slew of investment agreements would be signed during King Salman's trip and plans for a $1-billion fund to invest in energy projects are likely to be finalised then, as part of efforts by two of the world's biggest oil producers to expand cooperation. "The political will of Moscow and Riyadh for deeper cooperation on the widest range of issues is clear".

Putin said. "I think that all things change".

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