By Maria Dubovikova
Russia and Saudi Arabia hailed their growing partnership in oil markets and dialogue on Syria on Tuesday.
Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with President Vladimir Putin one week after the US President Donald Trump’s historic visit to Riyadh.
Putin praised the deputy crown prince, who looks after the Kingdom’s defense and energy, as he welcomed him to the Kremlin. It was the second meeting between the two men over the past year.
The deputy crown prince’s visit to Russia followed some anxiety in political and diplomatic circles in Moscow since US-Russian ties continue to be strained.
Washington’s movements in the strategically important Middle East made Russia keep a close eye on what happened in Riyadh.
“Relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia are seeing one of their best stages at the moment,” the deputy crown prince said.
“The two countries have a lot of points of mutual understanding. As for the points on which we have differences, a clear mechanism exists to overcome them and we are progressing at a quick pace in this respect,” he said.
The deputy crown prince believes his visit to Moscow would help strengthen bilateral relations. “The main thing is that we manage to build a strong foundation as concerns the oil market and prices of energy resources. This offers opportunities for building a strategic future further,” he said.
Russia is seeking to extend its presence in the region. Despite its close ties with Iran, Moscow is interested in building bridges with the Arab Gulf states. The deputy crown prince’s visit to Moscow balances the Riyadh Summit, demonstrating that the Kingdom is ready to maintain open dialogue with all countries that are eager to do so.
The prince and Putin discussed stabilizing the world oil market and Syria. Putin’s and the deputy crown prince’s estimations of bilateral ties are similar.
There are 25 mutually beneficial investment projects totaling $10 billion that are under examination.
Nickolay Soukhov, senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies at Russia’s Academy of Sciences, said the visit will have a positive impact on bilateral ties.
“The fact that the Saudi deputy crown prince arrived in Moscow one week after the historic summit in Riyadh demonstrates that the Kingdom is eager to keep balance in its foreign policy and to diversify its ties,” Soukhov said.
Anton Mardasov, expert at the Russian Council on Foreign Relations and head of the Middle East conflicts department at the Institute of Innovative Development, said: “Moscow is interested in building partnerships with the Gulf monarchies, and with Saudi Arabia in particular. It was noticeable even in contacts within the framework of OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). Cooperation between the two countries is also needed on Syria. It’s likely that Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has come to Russia partly to figure out how serious Moscow is about maintaining safe zones in Syria.”
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