Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Saudi Arabia today for high-level talks that will feature a meeting with Saudi Crown
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Saudi Arabia today for high-level talks that will feature a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Discussions are expected to focus on investment agreements. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has invested some $2.5 billion in various Russian industries, including technology, infrastructure and oil, over the past few years. Putin is expected to return the favour on this trip, with more than 10 investment agreements expected to be signed, particularly in Saudi Arabia’s tourism and agricultural industries.
Aside from trade and investment, the trip allows Putin to further consolidate Moscow’s warm ties with Riyadh. Over the past decade, Russia has built considerable influence in the Middle East, largely on the back of cordial relations with all the region’s major players, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Turkey and Egypt—this despite many of these regional powers being at odds with each other.
Expect Moscow to leverage its influence by increasing arms sales to the region. The Middle East is the world’s second largest and fastest growing arms market and already accounts for around half of Russia’s arms exports. Russia’s share of the global arms market has fallen by 8% this decade, so the Middle East could be key to reversing that trend, which would in turn boost Moscow’s power projection.
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