Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh on Monday for his first visit in over 12 years.
The Russian leader was greeted at King Khalid International Airport by Riyadh Governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar following his arrival on Monday, before being welcomed to Al-Yamamah Palace by Saudi King Salman as well as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, commonly known as MBS.
Putin was then given an official welcoming ceremony in his honor, before signing various agreements between the two countries including a pact on oil cooperation. The two sides also signed a number of multi-million-dollar investment contracts aerospace, culture, health, and technology sectors.
The visit comes as Putin mediates between two friendly countries, Turkey and Syria, following the former’s decision to invade the latter. Last week, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a majority Syrian Kurdish coalition that Turkey considers a terrorist group, to ally with Syria’s Russian-backed dictator Bashar al-Assad.
#WATCH: Part of the Russian anthem being played at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh as #Russia's president Vladimir Putin visits #SaudiArabia and is received by King Salmanhttps://t.co/eI1LAM82wx pic.twitter.com/RrNGg0Tzh4
— Arab News (@arabnews) October 14, 2019
The meeting marked the strengthening relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia following years of cooperation in a bid to keep oil markets stable, despite being on different sides of regional conflicts in Syria and Yemen. Russia is a traditional ally of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s most belligerent enemy.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) October 14, 2019
In an interview with Arab broadcasters aired on Sunday before arrival, Putin said he had “very good relations” with the Saudi leadership, saying bilateral relations had improved between both countries.
“We consider Saudi Arabia a friendly nation,” he said. “I have very good relations with both the King and the Crown Prince.”
The Russian leader condemned last month’s attacks on Saudi oil installations, stating that “such actions do not bring any positive results to anybody, including perpetrators,” as Saudi authorities continue to blame Tehran for the incident.
“We condemn any such actions, end of story,” said Putin. “This is the official position … regardless of who stood behind the incident.”
The Iranian government claims not to have been involved despite evidence heavily indicating the missiles came from Iran. Some Iranian officials publicly celebrated the attack.
The 83-year-old Saudi King Salman said in a statement that Riyadh “looks forward to working with Russia to achieve security and stability and fight terrorism.”
Asked by reporters if Riyadh was cozying up to Moscow at the expense of relations with the U.S, Saudi senior foreign ministry official Adel al-Jubeir said there was not an issue.
“We don’t believe that having close ties with Russia has any negative impact on our relationship with the United States,” he told reporters on Sunday. “We believe that we can have strategic and strong ties with the United States while we develop our ties with Russia.”