What Saudis Hope To Get Out Of Russia Ties

Authored by M.K. Bhadrakumr viaThe Strategic Culture Foundation,

The mishap at the Moscow airport on Wednesday when the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz arrived on a historic visit, was a wake-up call that even the most carefully choregraphed enterprises may hold unpleasant surprises.

When Salman exited his plane and stepped out onto the special escalator he travels with, something went wrong. It malfunctioned halfway down, leaving the king standing awkwardly for about 20 seconds before he decided to walk the rest of the way. For ordinary mortals, this wouldn’t have been an uncommon occurrence but divinity ordains when a king is involved.

The Russian-Saudi entente is not going to be smooth. The climactic event last week drawing Saudi Arabia into President Vladimir Putin’s Middle East sphere of influence, must be assessed with a sense of proportions.

Salman had hardly departed from Russian soil when the Pentagon issued a statement announcing that the State Department had on Friday approved a possible US$15-billion sale of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems to Saudi Arabia.

The statement recalled that Saudi Arabia had requested to purchase from America 44 THAAD launchers, 360 missiles, 16 fire control stations and seven radars.

The US officials confirmed that the sale was part of the $110-billion package of defense equipment and services initially announced during US President Donald Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia in May. The Pentagon statement said, “This potential sale will substantially increase Saudi Arabia’s capability to defend itself against the growing ballistic missile threat in the region.”

The timing of the US announcement is highly significant. It comes in the wake of claims by Russian officials that Saudi Arabia had shown interest in buying the S-400 missile defense system from Russia. The Saudis have successfully pressured the Trump administration to approve the sale of the THAAD system. And Washington has signaled that the US will not let Russia make an entry into the Saudi arms bazaar.

Hard-nosed realpolitik

The hard-nosed realpolitik in the Saudi-Russian entente had a dramatic start when the then Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan visited Russia and held a four-hour meeting with Putin at the latter’s dacha outside Moscow in early August 2013. According to media leaks from Russian sources, the Prince allegedly confronted the Kremlin with a mix of inducements and threats in a bid to break Russia’s support for the Syrian regime, which Riyadh was trying to overthrow.

Bandar’s package was riveted on the alluring proposal of a unified Russian-Saudi strategy to keep oil production quantities at a level that keeps the price stable in global markets via an alliance between the OPEC cartel and Russia. And, in return for throwing the Syrian regime under the bus – thereby leaving Iran to face the brunt of the ISIS threat – Bandar promised that Russia could retain the naval base in Taurus under a successor regime in Damascus and be assured of security from a ‘jihadi’ backlash.

The Kremlin apparently spurned the overture in a huff. At any rate, by the beginning of 2014, symptoms of a new Cold War began appearing in Russia’s relations with the West following the regime change in Ukraine. The year 2015 also saw a ‘transition’ in Saudi Arabia with the death of King Abdullah. Of course, the year ended with Russia’s military intervention in Syria.

However, the seeds left behind by Bandar began sprouting and with the Russian economy feeling the crunch from Western sanctions, the fall in oil prices on the world market assumed an existential overtone for the Kremlin. The challenge of the US oil shale industry also meant that Saudi-Russian cooperation became a practical necessity. The rest is history.

Agreement to cut oil production

Indeed, the hallmark of Salman’s visit to Moscow has been the pledge by the two countries to carry forward their agreement to cut oil production. Putin disclosed that the deal to cut oil output to boost prices could be extended till the end of 2018, instead of expiring in March 2018.

Putin described his talks with the Saudi king as “very substantive, informative and very trusting”. And Russian commentators have hyped up that Saudi Arabia is “leaning toward Moscow in solving the Syrian crisis”. The Russian reports mentioned that Moscow and Riyadh are eyeing cooperation on nuclear energy, space exploration, plus infrastructure and arms deals.

However, Bandar’s proposal on oil production still remains the leitmotif of Saudi-Russian cooperation, as apparent from the rise in oil prices this week – as word came that Saudi Arabia and Russia would limit oil production through next year. (Brent crude was up 70 cents at $56.50 per barrel on Thursday.)

The point is, how do the Saudis view their ties with Russia? Are they aiming at a geopolitical shift in the Middle East? Evidently, Salman’s visit underscores that the Saudi and Russian leaders have decided to shift their focus toward common interests rather than let disagreements crowd the centre stage of relations. But then, the THAAD deal signals that Saudi Arabia also has a ‘big picture’ of itself being a major regional and international player.

Suffice to say, the Saudis are shifting away from their special relations with the West to a balanced foreign policy by opening up with Russia and creating multiple options for pursuing national interests. To be sure, the Saudis hope to diversify their partnerships based on common interests. While disagreements remain with Moscow over Syria – and notwithstanding the close ties between Moscow and Tehran – the Saudis have adopted a realistic policy toward the Kremlin.

Most certainly, the Saudi expectation is that at some point, the prospect of lucrative business opportunities would encourage the Kremlin to balance Russia’s relations with Iran. Basically, Bandar’s overture to Putin remains the bottom line.


Anonymous (not verified) Wed, 10/11/2017 - 02:02 Permalink

It was shockingly funny to read Saudi officials claiming that they didn't believe that Washington would have any problem with a new partnership with Russia.  I guess that having  a harem can be quite a distraction from U.S. news of the Trump administration's  difficulties with the D.C. establishment. It seems that the CIA has predictably rebelled against Saudi Arabia's newfound relationship with Russia, while  King Salman  was in Russia. The gunman that stormed the Jeddah, (not to be confused with Jedi)  palace gates that killed 2 armed guards and injured 3, was a 28 year old Saudi national.https://disobedientmedia.com/2017/10/gunman-storms-saudi-royal-palace-i…

bob_dole Anonymous (not verified) Wed, 10/11/2017 - 02:40 Permalink

I think the writing is on the wall. America is going to pull out of the ME eventually and in exchange for the Saudis not helping crash the US economy Trump is giving SA weapons to defend itself when they leave. Just because Putin and the Royal family are playing nice on the surface right now doesn't mean anything btw. You can look no further than the EU if you want to talk about multinational deals that destroy nations. Russia is much closer and needs Iran much more than their Saudis enemies. The SA empire will be ended on handshakes and smiles.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

bob_dole 2banana Wed, 10/11/2017 - 02:46 Permalink

SA tried to destroy Iran through its partial control over America. Don't think Russia and Iran don't know this. Iran looks at Iraq/Libya/Syria and knows if the Saudis could have done that to them they would have. Qatar was easily taken away from Saudis sphere of influence and was probably a huge threat that they have no other options but to do what Russia says and pray to fucking allah Putin doesn't fuck them over down the road.

In reply to by 2banana

Ghordius Wed, 10/11/2017 - 02:50 Permalink


this new friendship is going to blow a huge gaping hole in some favourite "alternative" narratives in both the US and Russia

poor trolls and propagandists, having to backtrack on so much bullsihit. nah, words are cheap

alliance... inflation. nowadays, you need two BFFs, one is not enough. hence Qatar hosts both the 5th US Fleet and a Turkish base, while in a kind of semi-embargo, for example

multi-polar is back

07564111 Ghordius Wed, 10/11/2017 - 03:34 Permalink

"new friendship"

Hilarious stuff Ghordo ;)

Let us examine and give consideration to these points ..

1) the "failure" of the royal flying carpet, thus forcing Salman to walk the last few steps onto Russian soil. I recall with much amusement, an 'incident' in China forcing Obama to leave his plane via the rear door :D :D

2) Salman met not by President Putin nor by Prime Minister Medvedev, but by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

3) Salman waited on Putins pleasure before being formally escorted to a meeting with his betters.

4) This was not so much a 'friendship' visit but an occasion for Putin to accept the surrender of the KSA in Syria.

5) There was no fucking bullshit dancing or gazing into a ball in the Kremlin.

I did think that you, before many here, would see the significance of the King visiting God on the Mountain. ;D


In reply to by Ghordius

Ghordius 07564111 Wed, 10/11/2017 - 03:57 Permalink

1) wasn't that His Royal Staircase? I though it was2) and yet I see the photos of both Putin and Salman shaking hands, don't I?3) yes, some grovelling seems to be involved. but in part it's just the usual protocol4) and strike some weapon deals. oh, "non oleat" still appliesI broadly agree with you, mind. and... it's still of several significancesmainly because of Egypt. which is still the true elephant in the ME Suite. and a former satisfied client of Russia

In reply to by 07564111

kommissar Wed, 10/11/2017 - 03:32 Permalink

yet no one says squat about trump sucking kissingers dick today on world wide tv.  for those of us keeping score at home, k was the architecht of the petrodollar.

OldFahrtyPants Wed, 10/11/2017 - 04:00 Permalink

4) This was not so much a 'friendship' visit but an occasion for Putin to accept the surrender of the KSA in Syria. Yup. I know exactly how the ragheads operate and that meeting was exactly for that purpose. 

africoman Wed, 10/11/2017 - 07:44 Permalink

At any rate,  K$A<<<Kriminal $tate of Arabia>>>cosying up the relation with Moscow creates discord and distrust for Iran/Syria.Russia's open arm welcome to K$A without serious foreign policy changes request just b/c it came with full of gold isn't good, its filthy money, and I am sure there are attached strings.Again, such official visit might be devised/known by I$$rahell so its aim is to create tensions between Russia and Iran in the future.If the aftermath of the new relation of Russia with K$A prevails while K$A kept doing what they are doing in the region<<<Death and destruction>>>, then its high time for new Russia-Iran conflict in the region.Once again the parasite state succeeded in creating instability not by themselves but by lack Russia confrontation to I$rhell.Why not leave that shitbag to U$A/Israel proxy state as its the case?  They will eventually crumble into once they were, sand niger by themselves if they don't agree to what must be changed first.This way Russia using their influence will affirm its stand for justice and don't give a fuck for destabilizing forces; the world will come to them as reliable allies.As for what K$A hope to gain is, not free of what its master states want them and they aren't up to any good as far as I am expecting, I guess it's a complicated game and I don't dare to blame Russia at this point, its K$A who come to visit not Russia invited them.

gespiri Wed, 10/11/2017 - 04:18 Permalink

If we can get these pedophile, inbred, arrogant dickheads out of Europe every summer (especially London and Switzerland) then I'll be ecstatic!!

peterk Wed, 10/11/2017 - 04:41 Permalink

the US mide east policy  is  dead and buried.The US lost,  Putin the New  king  of the Middle east. Its like watchig a chess master, Putin play, ... and then we have the yanks sitting in a dark corner of the room on the floor... in the darl... playing checkers... by themselves.Embarrasing to say  the least.

BetterRalph Wed, 10/11/2017 - 05:08 Permalink

"his golden stairs got stuck"

NO PROBLEMO - MY E-4 grade problem solving.
Emergency Exits are to your left and right. PULL the Handle and TURN.
Now the King can SLIDE out down the emergency air ramps.

(note: if the king is FAT or gets stuck use soap and a bucket of ICE water to make a slip n slide)
end sarc.

I only know this of Saudi Arabia
1970's they needed Drywall people for 6 month/ 1 year contracts (no drinking.)
USACE build some underground nuke bunker for em (finished I guess?)
They provide crude still
They chop hands, heads, and marry children

I got no clue on their motivation, a shift in loyalty?

TGF Texas Wed, 10/11/2017 - 07:08 Permalink

SA, without the ability to control the price of oil, is doomed, and coorespondingly so is the petro-dollar! This is yet again, smoke and mirrors, sanctioned by the USA.  Have a US proxy "warm" to a long standing enemy isn't something that happens without the permission of the most powerful country in the world. Wake-up people!!Also, why is it that every photo/video of the Saudi's looks like a horrible fake?

OldFahrtyPants Wed, 10/11/2017 - 07:47 Permalink

When the Saudi dignitaries used to meet leaders of other tinpots they'd play marching music. This was placed there by mischievous MI6 buds. So you'd sit through some boring footage but with Monty Python's Flying Circus music or even better "Roll Out The Barrel".

Son of Captain Nemo Wed, 10/11/2017 - 08:47 Permalink

I asked Jen Stoltenberg the very same question (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-10/nato-launches-new-black-sea-fo…), about what would happen if his government made the unilateral decision to cut and run from NATO and made a very public announcement for it?...

Have to raise this question to the Saudi Royals (as well as Qatar and Turkey) cause it's one I've been asking since Dumbo broached it in an off hand and out of context way a few years ago (http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-manhattan-nuke-russia-putin-2014-3)...

Would something happen to Saudi Arabia like what Obama spoke to if you and your government made a public pronouncement that your Country would no longer be representing the U.S. and it's military and that it's time to chart a new independent course outside of the U.S. and EU alliance?...

What do you think might happen to your Country in terms of viable sabotage from the U.S., Israel and U.K. government(s)? And how would it be used to keep them in your Country "militarily"???...

Wonder what Saudi Arabia would be willing to say at the UN on that score?!!!!

metanoic Wed, 10/11/2017 - 12:38 Permalink

If KSA wants to keep moving in Russia's direction they better hope Russia brings their full anti color revolution tool kit along or there might be some "democracy" injected into KSA.

David Wooten Wed, 10/11/2017 - 15:40 Permalink

"And, in return for throwing the Syrian regime under the bus – thereby leaving Iran to face the brunt of the ISIS threat – Bandar promised that Russia could retain the naval base in Taurus under a successor regime in Damascus and be assured of security from a ‘jihadi’ backlash.The Kremlin apparently spurned the overture in a huff"

Good.  That proves Russia's support for Assad isn't for some naval base that Russia has no land access to.

I Feel a littl… Wed, 10/11/2017 - 14:49 Permalink

This writer is a fucking moron. "The Kremlin apparently spurned the overture in a huff", fucking idiot, does he think the Russian state is run by children?Understand this, the Saudis do what the US tells them in order not to be 'Khadaffi'd'. When they (or anyone else) senses that the US terrorists won't win, they will then act IN THEIR OWN INTERESTS. Once a sufficient number of states defy the US terrorists, the balance will be tipped, the US dollar will be toast,  theft of other people's wealth will stop and the US will not be able to afford wars to bring dozens of states back into their fold.

David Wooten Wed, 10/11/2017 - 15:50 Permalink

What Saudis Hope To Get Out Of Russia Ties

What the Saudis want, with the end of the Syrian war in sight and Assad's remaining in power, is assurance from Russia that it will use its influence with Iran to keep Iran within its present boundaries and not use Hezbollah and the Shia government of Iraq to expand its own power and influence.  Israel will want the same thing with Syria as well and the Russians will be happy to comply in the name of stability.