Photo’s source: The New Arab – The meeting between Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and Russian President Vladimir Putin
On December 6, 2023, leading an official delegation, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. He was welcomed by Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) for the official talks.
During the talks, Putin said that friendly relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia cannot be hindered, while receiving a confirmation from MBS to his formal invitation to Russia. The bilateral talks in Riyadh focused on the situation in the region, highlighting also that Russia and Saudi Arabia could cooperate closely in the field of fertilizers.
Until the present times, Saudi Arabia and Russia have had a successful cooperation in the fields of energy, trade and investment, and the two countries have very good prospects for expanding cooperation.
Putin chose to visit the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, two relatively wealthy countries in the Middle East with sufficient regional influence, mainly in the hope of expanding economic and trade cooperation with relevant countries, with the purpose of achieving economic cooperation and mutual benefit and enhancing Russia’s influence in the Middle East.
Firstly, this visit will expand economic cooperation and promote economic development.
Against the backdrop of Western sanctions, Russia’s economic and trade relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have developed very rapidly in the past two years. Russia hopes to maintain this momentum, especially in expanding cooperation with relevant countries in industry, agriculture, digital economy, etc. Thus, investments from the Middle East are important for the Russian economy.
Crown Prince Mohammed stressed the historic nature and strong ties between the two countries, noting that, in the past, the Soviet Union was the first country to recognize Saudi Arabia. He added that Saudi Arabia and Russia have common interests and cooperation in many aspects, and great achievements have been made in the fields of energy, agriculture, trade and investment in the past few years. The joint efforts of both sides have helped to ease tensions in the Middle East.
In return, Putin said that the two countries have solid and good relations in the political, economic, and humanitarian fields.
Therefore, it is expected that Russia and Saudi Arabia will continue to deepen economic cooperation in the near future.
Secondly, Russia wants to further expand energy cooperation in the OPEC+ mechanism.
In February 2023, the “Price Cap Coalition”, formed by the European Union, the G7 and Australia, was officially producing effects on Russian gasoline, kerosene, diesel and other crude oil derivatives, as well as low-quality crude oil products, such as fuel oil and naphtha.
For Russia, which is highly dependent on energy revenues, after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the West’s “embargo” and “price limit” sanctions on Russian oil, the rise in international oil prices had to a certain extent hedged the economic losses caused by the decline in Russian oil exports.
According to Russian presidential assistant Ushakov, the members of the Russian delegation accompanying Putin on his “one-day trip to the Middle East” included Russian Deputy Prime Minister Novak, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Russian Central Bank Governor Nabiullina, responsible for coordinating relations with “OPEC+” member states, as well as representatives of the business community, such as Borisov, president of the Russian State Space Corporation, and Likhachev, president of the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation. It is reported that in the situation of poor results in measures to boost oil prices, Russia might take advantage of this trip to the Middle East to further strengthen coordination and cooperation with relevant countries in the energy field.
Thirdly, Russia hopes to take advantage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to expand diplomatic space and get rid of Russia’s international isolation.
It is hoped that through the visit of the head of state, Russia will further strengthen ties with Middle Eastern countries and expand its influence in the region.
Under the severe sanctions imposed by the United States and Western countries, especially when the so-called “wanted warrant” was issued against him, Putin was still able to visit Central Asian countries, China, and Middle Eastern countries. As such, it can be said that Putin has broken through the West’s encirclement, suppression, blockade and containment of him and has opened up a “new world of diplomacy” among the countries of the “Global South”.
At the same time, this was also the first time that a leader of a major country in the global non-Western camp has visited an Arab country, after the escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In other words, there are also “backers” behind Arab countries. So, it is even more impossible for Israel to impose its will on the entire Arab world with the support of the United States. To a certain extent, the major powers behind the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will constrain each other, which will also have a profound impact on the Palestinian-Israeli situation.
Therefore, in the chaotic situation in the region, Russia’s visit to Saudi Arabia to strengthen cooperation with Middle Eastern countries has a mutually beneficial nature. Russia wants to get out of isolation, and Middle Eastern countries also want to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as soon as possible, so both sides are constantly strengthening coordination at the bilateral and regional levels.
Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed in this analysis are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of MEPEI. Any content provided by our authors is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.
About the author:
Mrs. Jun Qiao is student at Anhui University, China. She is intern at MEPEI.