The Russian newspaper Kommersant is saying that big deals are in the works between Saudi King Salman and the Kremlin.
Reportedly, Riyadh will sign off on a $3 billion contract to buy Russia’s advanced S-400 air defense system, among other weapons:
On Wednesday, for the first time in the history of bilateral relations, the King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud arrived in Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin.
Expectations from the visit are extremely high, including in terms of military-technical cooperation…there is a prospect of concluding a package of arms contracts worth over $ 3 billion, which implies the delivery of S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile systems to Riyadh, depend on the outcome of the negotiations.
If these contracts are concluded, it will represent a major blow to the US military industrial complex and Washington’s influence in the Middle East. The US has had a very close relationship with the Saudi monarchy since World War II, and has maintained a near monopoly on supplying arms to the kingdom.
And it’s not only weapons being discussed – the same Kommersant report says Russia plans to invest billions into the Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund, and other projects – including taking a share of the kingdom’s oil market:
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RFPI) plans to sign three agreements on the creation of new funds with the sovereign fund of Saudi Arabia – the Public Investment Fund (PIF, assets are estimated at $183 billion, but their volume already next year could grow to $2.5 trillion due to the upcoming IPO Saudi Aramco).
Together with PIF and oil company Saudi Aramco, it is planned to create an energy investment fund worth $1 billion, which will invest in companies in the field of oilfield services and related services.
Also, according to the fund, the parties will announce the establishment of a joint Russian-Saudi platform for investment in high-tech. The volume of investments of the Saudi side will be $1 billion.
Altogether, these agreements show the Arab monarchy seeking to diversify its alliances amid the rising influence of Russia in the Middle East and a relative decline in the reach of the United States.
The failure of the US and its allies to achieve their desired outcome in Syria and the successful intervention by Russia and Iran on behalf of Damascus have probably got Gulf states reconsidering the region’s political status quo.
In addition, the Russian-Saudi deals stand to undercut the value of Donald Trump’s much vaunted first foreign trip, which he took to Riyadh to close a new round of arms deals amid much pomp and circumstance.