| 18 April 2024, Thursday |

Russia seeks closer Saudi Arabia ties, says Gulf relations not aimed against anyone

During a meeting with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasized the significance of strengthening diplomatic relations and enhancing cooperation with Saudi Arabia. Lavrov made it clear that the Russian-Gulf relations were not targeted against any specific party.
“During the sixth round of Russia-Gulf Cooperation Council strategic dialogue in Moscow, we have a unique opportunity to focus on issues of bilateral cooperation. The Russian side once again stresses the importance of maintaining diplomatic relations and expanding cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia,” state news agency TASS reported.

Lavrov emphasized that the positions of the two countries corresponded on a range of international issues and added: “Russian President Vladimir Putin and King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia show solidarity during their regular dialogues within various formats.”
The Saudi side said the two ministers’ meeting “reviewed the historical relations of friendship and strategic cooperation between the two friendly countries and peoples.” They also “discussed ways to enhance and develop these relations in all fields, along with consolidating bilateral and multilateral efforts on numerous files of common interest,” Saudi state news agency SPA reported.

Russia’s pursuit of closer ties with Saudi Arabia can be interpreted as driven by its recognition of Saudi Arabia’s importance in the global energy market, the geopolitical influence the Gulf region holds, and the potential diplomatic opportunities it offers to alleviate Russia’s isolation and economic challenges resulting from the Ukraine invasion and subsequent sanctions.

Saudi Arabia holds significant geopolitical influence within the Gulf region and the wider Middle East. By forging closer ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Russia can potentially expand its diplomatic reach and influence in a region that has been historically dominated by Western powers. Strengthening its relationship with Saudi Arabia allows Russia to gain leverage and counterbalance the influence of its rivals in the region, particularly in light of its isolation resulting from the Ukraine invasion.

Furthermore, enhancing ties with Saudi Arabia could provide Russia with a platform to demonstrate its willingness to engage in dialogue and diplomacy, potentially improving its international standing amid the fallout from the Ukraine conflict. By fostering partnerships with key Gulf nations, Russia aims to project an image of cooperation and international engagement, which could contribute to mitigating its isolation and easing some of the economic pressures resulting from sanctions.

Russia-Gulf cooperation
After the sixth ministerial meeting of the Russia-GCC strategic dialogue in Moscow, a joint action plan 2023-2028 was adopted targeting bolstering relations and exchanging experiences in a variety of aspects.

Lavrov stressed that cooperation between Russia and GCC countries “does not seek to hurt anyone.” He said, “neither Russia nor the Gulf countries had ever tried to interfere with each other’s relations with third countries,” which distinguishes them “from a range of other relations, which, regrettably, are not equal.”

Lavrov hailed Russia’s ties with Gulf countries saying their relations were “friendly, cooperative and based on mutual trust, due account of each other’s interests, and the desire to form consensus approaches to any issues under discussion.”

Russia’s relationship with Gulf countries is characterized by a range of political, economic, and strategic interactions. Seeking closer ties, Russia recognizes the GCC’s economic significance, energy resources, and geopolitical influence. Economically, energy cooperation plays a vital role, with Russia’s state-owned oil company, Rosneft, partnering with Gulf energy giants like Aramco and Qatar Petroleum. Additionally, Russia aims to expand non-energy trade, particularly in aerospace, defense, and technology. Politically, Russia engages with the GCC through diplomacy, high-level visits, and discussions on regional and global issues. Military cooperation agreements and joint exercises with GCC countries further solidify Russia’s presence in the region.

Overall, Russia’s relationship with the GCC countries is multifaceted, encompassing economic collaboration, diplomatic engagements, and defense cooperation. The region’s strategic significance drives Russia’s efforts to expand influence.

  • alarabiya