US3.5B Arms Deal on Saudi King Salman's Moscow Agenda

Posted October 06, 2017

Saudi Arabia has agreed to buy Russian S-400 air defense system, Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television reported on Thursday, on the sidelines of a visit by Saudi King Salman to Moscow.

On Wednesday, Mr Putin said a global deal to cut oil production in order to raise prices could be extended to the end of next year.

"In 2015, Saudi Arabia pledged $10 billion to invest in Russian Federation but two years on nothing has been invested", he said.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Wednesday it is his understanding that all OPEC members want to do everything necessary to stabilise oil markets.

The pact between the OPEC, Russia and other producers on cutting output by about 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) is now due to expire in March.

"At the moment, RDIF and Saudi Arabia's Investment Fund have implemented projects worth over $1 billion".

The Saudi energy minister has said his country is open to all options.

Putin was reacting to comments by Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov who said the 45,000-seat World Cup stadium in Samara, which has been plagued with delays over the past year, was the biggest issue. Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia have often competed for energy market dominance. It has allocated 191 billion riyals ($51 billion), or 21% of its 2017 budget, to military spending.

Putin has a passion for cars and once took former U.S. President George W. Bush for a drive in his vintage Soviet Gaz-21 at his residence outside Moscow.

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.

Saudi Arabia's General Investment Authority granted licenses to four Russian companies to work fully in the construction sector. Diplomatic relations were restored in 1992, after a five-decade hiatus, but Riyadh and Moscow found little common ground.

Vision 2030, a blueprint for Saudi Arabia to move its economy away from oil, is driving that change.

While Riyadh's ties with Washington remain solid, the new Saudi-Russian entente will be essential in bringing stability to a region in turmoil.