MOSCOW • On Wednesday, October 4th 2017, the Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will be arriving in Moscow, Russia for a state visit. Russian president Vladimir Putin has visited Saudi Arabia on a state in the 2000s, the Arab state has yet to return the favour—until now. The two biggest oil-producers of the world, the visit will be centered around energy politics and a possible collaboration on oil production.
The event is highly publicized in Russia and will be closely watched by the world, and especially the White House. The US has been a key ally to Saudi Arabia for more than 70 years. On the other hand, the Arab state has only begun to forged their relation with Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Even so, they have made sure to keep the Russians at an arms-length, due to their dependence on the US. However, this state visit may shift the balance of the countries’ relations.
The US’ close surveillance is understandable, especially at a time where Russia has begun to involve itself more and more in the Middle East (Syria, in particular)—a place which holds great importance to the US. According to Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser with Washington-based Gulf State Analytics, Russia has been working on this relationship “under America’s nose” for a decade. However, despite claiming Russia has always wanted to bridge their political relations with Saudi Arabia, the two countries have not shared each others’ interests in international conflicts. Take the conflict in Syria for instance; while Russia supports the regime of Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, Saudi Arabia—and the US—backs the opposition. In Iran, recently, Russia has shown its support of its president while Saudi Arabia has vehemently, not.
But of course, politics is not set in stone. Alliances change and shifts, and we can only wait to see what comes out of the state visit of the Saudi king to Moscow.