Russia, US sell advance weapons to Saudi Arabia

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted US 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.

Briefing the media on the talks between Putin and the 81-year-old king, the Russian and Saudi foreign ministers focused on the common ground between the two countries. Kommersant also said Putin and Salman are due to discuss an arms deal worth more than $3 billion (2.5 billion euros) to supply Riyadh with S-400 air defense systems.

Riyadh has agreed to purchase S-400 air defense missile system from Russian Federation, according to Saudi television station al-Arabiya.

He also drew the attention that the Saudi Russian relations are now witnessing an historic point as they have become institutional ties including numerous ministries and sectors, noting the investments launched and their role in enhancing trade between the two countries.

Salman arrived in Moscow on Wednesday, and it was the first time a Saudi king has ever visited Moscow.

The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Kirill Dmitriev, meanwhile said the visit had been a success, Spa reported on Saturday.

"We aim to strengthen our relations in the interests of peace and security, in the interests of developing the world economy", the Saudi king responded, according to AFP news agency.

He and Russian president, Vladimir Putin, have been discussing trade deals, the crisis in Syria and the price of oil, among other topics.

By contrast, Saudi Arabia has been supporting the rebel groups seeking to topple Assad. "This would demand that Iran give up interference with the internal affairs of the region, to give up actions destabilizing the situation in this region".

The $3bn weapon deal with Moscow came at a time, when U.S. government has also approved the possible sale of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) worth $15bn to Saudi Arabia.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have supported opposing sides in ongoing conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation helped secure a deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and 10 rival suppliers to cut output from January this year until the end of March 2018 in an effort to reduce a supply glut on world markets and prop up prices.

According to AFP, Saudi Arabia's ministry of information called the visit by 81-year-old Salman "historic" as it would be the first official visit to Russian Federation by a Saudi monarch.

The current global oil output cut deal between OPEC and some non-OPEC nations expires at the end of March 2018. Oil rose after Mr Putin's statement.

  • Joey Payne