Atlas News- King Salman of Saudi Arabia in a historic visit to Moscow has agreed to purchase S-400 air defense systems along with other rocket launching systems which are “expected to play a pivotal role in the growth and development of the military and military systems industry in Saudi Arabia.” Vladimir #Putin inside the Kremlin told reporters “This is the first visit by a Saudi Arabian monarch in the history of our relations and that in itself is a landmark event.” The Saudi Arabian King in a follow up statement said “We aim to strengthen our relations in the interests of peace and security, in the interests of developing the world economy.”
Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television reported on Thursday, on the sidelines of a visit by Saudi King Salman to Moscow.
The Dubai-based television channel also said that Saudi Arabia had signed a memorandum of understanding to help the kingdom in its efforts to develop its own military industries.
Salman arrived in Moscow on Wednesday, and it was the first time a Saudi king has ever visited Moscow.
Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin were slated to talk about global oil market and the war in Syria, the latter of which has been a source of tension between the two nations in recent years. Moscow backs the Syrian regime, while Riyadh has supported the government’s enemies.
This is also the first time in recent years, according to SIPRI, that Saudi Arabia has purchased weaponry from Moscow, as the US is Riyadh’s main source of arms, and the second time in the last month that Moscow has sold its S-400 missile defense system to an ally of, and major purchaser of weapons from, the US. Last month, Turkey agreed to buy the S-400 defense system, which has further strained relations between Ankara and NATO.
“A number of Gulf leaders have been going with greater regularity to Moscow and I think for a simple reason: Russia has made itself much more of a factor in key parts of the Middle East as the U.S. has taken a step back in some ways, particularly in Syria,” Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told the Associated Press.
Still, Russia doesn’t have the capacity to replace the US as Saudi Arabia’s main ally, Anna Borshchevskaya, a fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Associated Press.
“That said, it’s clear that Russia has been able to play a weak hand very well and step into vacuums everywhere where the U.S. has treated,” Borshchevskaya said.