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Will Russian-Saudi Relations Continue to Improve?

Anna Borshchevskaya

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Foreign Affairs

October 10, 2017


Putin's recent summit with the Saudi leader is another diplomatic coup for the Kremlin, but it does not mark a fundamental shift in Russia's calculus on Iran or other regional issues.

On October 5, when King Salman became the first ever Saudi monarch to visit Russia, President Vladimir Putin hailed the trip as a "landmark event," and billboards lined city streets welcoming the king in Arabic and Russian. After the summit, Salman and Putin signed a packet of documents on energy, trade, and defense, and agreed to several billion dollars' worth of joint investment. In addition, there are reports that Saudi Arabia agreed to purchase Russia's S-400 air defense system, making it the second U.S. ally to do so. The summit is just one more milestone in the recent trend of warming Russian-Saudi ties. In June 2015, then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attended the annual St. Petersburg Economic Forum -- the first time the prince became publicly involved in energy issues according to press reports at the time -- where he met with Putin...

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