Former global energy competitors and geopolitical rivals in the Middle East and Central Asia, Russia and Saudi Arabia have been resolving their differences in order to build a long term strategic partnership.

Recent backdrop to Russia-Saudi relations

Following on from Saudi’s deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister, Prince Mohammed’s visit to Moscow, in early 2017, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was hosted, in Moscow, by President Putin, at the beginning of October. The visit was the first by a ruling Saudi sovereign to Russia, and was described by the Russian and Saudi foreign ministers, Sergei Lavrov and Adel al-Jubeir, as a “truly historic event”.

Salman had previously travelled to Moscow, in 2006, in his capacity as Prince of Riyadh. This visit set the stage for improving bilateral relations. Shortly afterwards, in 2007, Putin was invited to meet with King Abdullah, Saudi’s sovereign at the time. It was also the first visit by a Russian leader to the kingdom, since the founding of Saudi Arabia.