[Riyadh, 14th Reuters]-Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Saudi Arabia for the first time in 12 years and met with King Salman and Prince Muhammad. He showed off his influence in the Middle East against the backdrop of military dispatch to Syria, strengthening relations with Middle Eastern countries, and energy cooperation.
Russia has expanded its influence by sending troops to Syria in 2015 and supporting the Assad regime with the Iranian Civil War. Saudi has supported Syrian dissidents.
The United States has been reluctant to engage with the Middle East and announced that it would withdraw US troops from northern Syria the day before Putin's visit to Saudi Arabia. The Assad administration, backed by Russia, agreed to cooperate with the Kurdish forces in Turkey, and advanced to the southern Turkish border, where the Kurds were effectively controlled.
Russia has also strengthened relations with both Saudis, which are dominated by Islamic Sunnis, and with Shiran-dominated Iran, where the country is hostile.
President Putin and King Salman said the relationship between the two countries was important to the stability and security of the Middle East.
After discussing joint investment, Syria and Yemen issues, Prince Mohammad expressed his view that Saudi and Russian energy cooperation would lead to stability.
Prior to the visit, Putin said it could play a positive role in reducing Saudi and Iranian tensions. When the Saudi oil facility was attacked in September, they also proposed supplying Russian defense systems to Saudi Arabia. If Saudi plans for the purchase of Russia's S400 missile system move forward, it is inevitable that the US government will rebound.
In line with President Putin's visit, the two countries signed more than 10 memorandums in areas such as energy, petrochemistry, transportation and artificial intelligence (AI).
Domitriev, president of the Russian government fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said many Russian investors are interested in the initial public offering (IPO) of Saudi National Oil Saudi Aramco.
Russia's Novak Energy Minister said the state-run Gazprom was interested in working with Saudi companies in the natural gas sector.