‘Advance’: The Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Middle East will have global consequences

11:45 12.12.2023 •

Vladimir Putin in Riyadh with Mohammed bin Salman.
Photo: Kremlin.ru

Vladimir Putin's trip to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh aroused great interest among the world community and left a lot of questions, writes ‘Advance’ from Croatia. The most intriguing of them: what the parties actually discussed, and what consequences the West can now expect?

After a gala reception in the United Arab Emirates and a meeting with local leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, to meet with the heir to the throne, Mohammed bin Salman. At these negotiations, the leaders of the two countries – the largest oil exporters in the world – called on the entire OPEC+ organization to reduce oil production for the “good of the global economy.”

“In the energy sector, both sides highly appreciated the close cooperation and successful efforts of OPEC+ countries to increase the stability of global oil markets,” said a joint statement issued following the meeting. “The parties emphasized the importance of continuing this cooperation and the need for all participating countries to join the OPEC+ agreement in the interests of producers and consumers and to maintain global economic growth,” the statement said.

Sources in the oil market noted that such an emphasis placed by the Kremlin and Riyadh on “supporting” the plan to reduce production looks like a signal to OPEC+ countries that have not reduced production or have reduced it insufficiently.

After returning from Saudi Arabia to Moscow, Vladimir Putin met with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi in the Kremlin. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak was also present at the talks, as was Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

There is an opinion that Vladimir Putin's unexpected visit to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh hides many mysteries. Would a person in wartime, accompanied by four military aircraft, decide to go to the Middle East only to make a joint statement of intention to reduce oil production in order to stabilize the market? Сan't believe it.

The Kremlin says Putin and Mohammed bin Salman also talked about the conflicts in Gaza, Ukraine and Yemen, the Iranian nuclear program and deepening defense cooperation. Of course, it is difficult to say how Saudi Arabia’s willing to impose its agenda in the Middle East in these times of crisis. On the one hand, Mohammed bin Salman is trying to establish Saudi Arabia as a regional power that is leaving the sphere of strong American influence. But at the same time, Saudi Arabia remains the largest buyer of American weapons.

At some point, Russia will likely to be on the verge of victory in Ukraine, even as the armed conflict appears to be dragging on. Western allies are gradually abandoning Kyiv, and Moscow simply needs enough economic strength to bring its plans to completion. That's why Saudi Arabia is so important to Moscow.

Saudi Arabia is such a powerful state that it can literally “change the world” by increasing and decreasing oil production. The United States is trying by all means to persuade Mohammed bin Salman to increase production, because this will reduce prices on the market and also hit the income of the Russian Federation.

Joe Biden also flew to Riyadh last year and tried to strangle Russia with the help of Saudi Arabia, but his plan failed miserably. Then it became clear that tectonic changes were taking place in the geopolitical arena of the Middle East, since the United States could no longer use its strongest “lever” there.

Russia intervened in the matter, occupying a new place in the region, and in order to preserve it, Vladimir Putin was ready to visit Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is a state that is aware that the special relationship with Washington could at some point become a serious threat to itself. Of course, Saudi Arabia remembers the fate of some Middle Eastern states that worked closely with the United States and then descended into chaos. The Saudis remember how Washington strongly supported Saddam Hussein during the long and grueling war against Iran, and then the Americans themselves attacked and eliminated him.

Riyadh understands that it is only a matter of time before the United States decides that the time has come to “give” the Saudis democracy. Taking this into account, Riyadh wants to promptly enlist the support of new forces that are sympathetic to the Saudi “peculiarities.” Such states, of course, include Russia, as well as China.

As for Vladimir Putin’s “mysterious visit” to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, there is probably a lot that we still don’t know. Perhaps, the parties have reached some important agreements, including regarding the current armed conflict between Israel and Hamas? Undoubtedly, if the opportunity arose to resolve a conflict that threatens to develop into a global war in the Middle East, it would become a real sensation. The Russian Federation is able to speak completely directly with all direct and indirect participants in this conflict: Israel, Hamas, Saudi Arabia...

In any case, we can already say that the Vladimir Putin’s visit will have global consequences.


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