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Saudi visit showcases Putin's growing Middle East influence

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Saudi visit showcases Putin's growing Middle East influence

By Stephen Kalin, Olesya Astakhova

 

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FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a conference of the Israeli foundation Keren Hayesod in Moscow, Russia, September 17, 2019. Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

 

RIYADH (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Saudi Arabia on Monday for the first time in over a decade, seeking to capitalize on growing influence borne of military advances in Syria, strong ties with regional rivals and cooperation on energy policy.

 

Moscow accrued power in the Middle East in 2015 by sending troops to Syria, where it and Iran have been key backers of President Bashar al-Assad amid civil war, while the United States pulled back.

 

On the eve of Putin’s trip, U.S. troops were evacuating northern Syria as their erstwhile Kurdish allies struck a deal with Assad’s Russian-backed army aimed at halting a Turkish offensive.

 

Russia has also strengthened ties with both Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran, which are locked in a decades-old contest for influence that veered towards open conflict after a recent spate of attacks on oil assets in the Gulf that Riyadh and Washington blame on Tehran. Iran denies the charges.

 

Tensions with Iran, which is locked in several proxy wars with Saudi Arabia including in Syria, have risen to new highs after Washington last year quit a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran and re-imposed sanctions.

 

Putin, accompanied on the trip by his energy minister and head of Russia’s wealth fund, is due to hold talks with King Salman and de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with whom Putin says he has friendly relations.

 

The strengthened ties have seen non-OPEC Russia, once regarded as a rival in oil markets, join OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia in forming an alliance known as OPEC+ to support crude prices by restraining output.

 

Ahead of the visit, Putin, who offered to provide Russian defense systems to the kingdom after Sept. 14 attacks on its oil facilities, said he could also play a positive role in easing tensions with Tehran as he had good ties with both sides.

 

Any progress on long-mulled Saudi plans to purchase the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems would cause disquiet in Washington, which announced over the weekend it was sending around 3,000 troops and additional air defense systems to Saudi Arabia following last month’s attack.

 

OIL AND INVESTMENTS

 

Asked about concerns Riyadh was cozying up to Moscow, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said he saw no contradiction.

 

“We don’t believe that having close ties with Russia has any negative impact on our relationship with the United States,” he told reporters on Sunday. “We believe that we can have strategic and strong ties with the United States while we develop our ties with Russia.”

 

Russian and Saudi flags lined the streets of Riyadh ahead of Putin’s one-day visit, which includes a performance by Russia’s Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra. Putin then travels to the United Arab Emirates.

 

In meetings with Saudi leaders, the Russian president will discuss the OPEC+ pact, which has seen production cut by 1.2 million barrels per day since January.

 

A forum will convene 300 Saudi and Russian CEOs. The two sides are expected to sign more than $2 billion of deals, including a joint investment by state oil giant Saudi Aramco and Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund.

 

RDIF head Kirill Dmitriev said a number of Russian investors were interested in a planned initial public offering of Aramco, which could sell between 1% and 2% through a local listing as early as November ahead of a potential international offering.

 

Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Russia’s Gazprom is interested in cooperating with Saudi firms on natural gas.

 

Moscow, the world’s largest wheat exporter, made some progress in accessing the Saudi and Middle Eastern markets when the kingdom agreed in August to relax specifications for wheat imports, opening the door to Black Sea imports.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-10-14

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It's amazing. Saudi Arabia, which is not exactly known because of their wonderful democracy or human rights seems to be on friendly terms with Putin and Trump.

Maybe all countries should aspire to be just like Saudi Arabia...

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President Trump has given most of USA's power to Russia.

 

It will take decades for USA to gain the power back, it once held over the world politics. Currently USA is still a large nuclear weapons power, but without soft power. Quite like what happened to Soviet Union back in 90's. 

 

I do hope that USA can handle it's power slide as well as Soviet Union and then Russia did. Powerful countries loosing their powers are really quite scary events. 

 

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this is a message to Trump: Putin is in good relations with the Sunni, and Trump is not MBS's only partner

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "putin mbs khashoggi" 

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6 minutes ago, Slip said:

Whatever you want to say about Putin, he is running rings around the 'western powers' it seems increasingly clear.

I'm pretty sure that he also looses his own credibility every time he screws the western unity up. 

 

What Putin really want, is to be part of the western World. 

While I'm against him and his policies, I also think we should invite him to be one with us. That way we don't end up having WW3, simply because we all were morons.

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2 minutes ago, Becker said:

Yes, thanks to his boy in the WH.

I think so as well. Trump is the tomboy of Putin. 

 

But perhaps, this is actually good for human kind. USA run by more realistically thinking Russia in today's world.

 

Perhaps we sometimes need to have our superpowers to be run by other countries with less aggressive views of the future?

 

Perhaps Tump was a blessing in discuise being the man who didn't want to start a new war?

 

I don't know, but just perhaps?

 

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1 minute ago, Amalia0101 said:

I think so as well. Trump is the tomboy of Putin. 

 

But perhaps, this is actually good for human kind. USA run by more realistically thinking Russia in today's world.

 

Perhaps we sometimes need to have our superpowers to be run by other countries with less aggressive views of the future?

 

Perhaps Tump was a blessing in discuise being the man who didn't want to start a new war?

 

I don't know, but just perhaps?

 

Nothing good comes from Putin - nothing at all.

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6 minutes ago, Becker said:

Nothing good comes from Putin - nothing at all.

Perhaps. I don't know. I do know that Putin has a daughter and he probably wish to make everything possible that his daughter will have a good future. Putin is therefore unlikely to start a war, which kills her daughter.

 

That's how I try to think logically and evaluate our nuclear button leaders. I can't know how they think, but I can assume they care of the wellbeing of their offsprings. 

Edited by Amalia0101
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18 minutes ago, Becker said:

Yes, thanks to his boy in the WH.

Indeed as you point out, my contention is not without supporting evidence.

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4 minutes ago, Amalia0101 said:

Perhaps. I don't know. I do know that Putin has a daughter and he probably wish to make everything possible that his daughter will have a good future. Putin is therefore unlikely to start a war, which kills her daughter.

 

That's how I try to think logically and evaluate our nuclear button leaders. I can't know how they think, but I can assume they care of the wellbeing of their offsprings. 

Almost all of history's worst mass murderers and tyrants had offspring.

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9 minutes ago, Becker said:

Almost all of history's worst mass murderers and tyrants had offspring.

Did they?

 

I'm actually utterly curious of this fact. Mostly because I bank our future to it. 

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34 minutes ago, Amalia0101 said:

 

34 minutes ago, Amalia0101 said:

Almost all of history's worst mass murderers and tyrants had offspring.

But this was before the era of mutually assured destruction. 

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