Russian President Vladimir Putin received massive blacklash from countries at the Arab summit when he submitted a letter that stated he could not “express support for the Middle East.” The leaders at the summit accused Putin of hypocrisy since he is a known ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“He speaks about the problems in the Middle East as though Russia is not influencing these problems,” retorted Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. “They speak about tragedies in Syria while they are an essential part of the tragedies befalling the Syrian people, by arming the Syrian regime above and beyond what it needs to fight its own people. I hope that the Russian president corrects this so that the Arab world’s relations with Russia can be at their best level.”
Putin told the summit that Russia supports “the Arabs’ aspirations for a prosperous future and for the resolution of all the problems the Arab world faces through peaceful means, without any external interference.”
His support of Assad cooled relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia. The relationship between Syria and Saudi Arabia has always been strained, but it completely deteriorated one year into the Syrian Civil War. Saudi Arabia closed its embassy in Syria in 2012 and flew home all of their citizens. At the same time, Saudi Arabia threw out all Syrian ambassadors.
The Arab summit is taking place in Egypt, which means the prince’s outburst could cause tensions. Egypt depends on Saudi Arabia, but they also enjoy a solid relationship with Moscow. Putin received a very warm welcome from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in February when he visited the country for the first time in a decade. During a meeting, Putin agreed to help Egypt build its first nuclear power plant and fight terrorism.