Russian President Vladimir Putin made a rare one-day tour to the Middle East, during which he visited Saudi Arabia following a brief trip to the United Arab Emirates. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman engaged in discussions regarding further cooperation on oil prices, as reported by a Kremlin spokesperson.
The talks between Putin and the crown prince, who holds a de facto position as the world's largest crude exporter, were hastily arranged. This meeting occurred shortly after Russian President's visit to the United Arab Emirates, a Gulf neighbour of Saudi Arabia.
The President of the Gulf nation, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, warmly referred to Putin as his "dear friend" during their meeting. Expressing satisfaction at their reunion, Sheikh Mohammed issued a statement highlighting the discussions on "the importance of strengthening dialogue and cooperation to ensure stability and progress."
In response, the Russian leader, Putin, echoed those sentiments by acknowledging the unprecedentedly high level of relations, largely attributed to Sheikh Mohammed's position. Putin emphasized that the UAE holds a pivotal role as Russia's main trading partner in the Arab world.
According to Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the Kremlin, as quoted by Russian news agencies, he affirmed that collaboration would persist within OPEC+, which comprises the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies led by Russia.
The meeting occurred in response to a decline in oil prices, notwithstanding the OPEC+ commitment to further reduce output. Interfax news agency quoted Peskov, stating, "We talked again about cooperation in OPEC+. The parties agree that our countries bear a great responsibility for interaction in order to maintain the international energy market at the proper level, in a stable, predictable state."
Putin, who has maintained a limited international presence since deploying troops to Ukraine in February 2022, was anticipated to address Ukraine and the conflict in Gaza during his meeting. Quoting the crown prince, the Saudi Press Agency reported, "we share many interests and many files that we are working on together for the benefit of Russia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, and the world."
At the commencement of their discussions, as broadcasted on Russian television, Putin expressed gratitude to MbS, widely known as the crown prince, for the invitation. Putin initially expected the crown prince to visit Moscow, but plans changed.
This visit comes after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant in March, accusing him of deporting Ukrainian children. Notably, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where he visited, haven't signed the ICC's founding treaty. Putin criticized the recent Gaza conflict, suggesting Moscow could mediate due to its ties with Israel and the Palestinians.
Putin expressed that their next meeting should occur in Moscow, emphasizing the unstoppable development of friendly relations. The Russian defense ministry showcased Putin's delegation, including top officials from various sectors, during its flight from Russia to the United Arab Emirates.
Image source: Reuters