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Kremlin rejects allegations of Putin-MBS ‘shouting match’ phone call over oil cuts

The Kremlin denied that Putin and Mohammed bin Salman engaged in a fiery argument [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 April, 2020

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The Russian government has denied reports that Putin and the Saudi crown prince had a fiery telephone call ahead of an ill-fated OPEC+ meeting on 6 March.
The Russian government has denied a report in London-based Middle East Eye claiming that President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman engaged in a "shouting match" over the phone amid a dispute over oil production in March.

"This is not true," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told state news agency TASS.

The report, published on Tuesday by Middle East Eye’s chief editor David Hearst, cited unnamed Saudi sources who said that the exchange occurred on 6 March, ahead of a decisive OPEC+ meeting.

During the ill-fated conference, major oil-producing countries failed to agree on production cuts in line with a sharp decline in global demand caused by the coronavirus crisis.

In-depth: Oil price truce: The Russia-Saudi standoff is over. But at what cost?

"The conversation was very personal. They shouted at each other. Putin refused the ultimatum and the call ended badly," the article quoted an anonymous Saudi official as saying.

Russia refused to agree to production cuts in the meeting, the article alleges, prompting Saudi Arabia and the UAE to flood the market with oil, causing prices to plummet.

A new OPEC+ agreement to remedy an alleged dispute between the two countries and its disastrous ramification on the oil market was struck on 12 April, with member countries approving cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day.

Despite a recent uptick in oil prices as tensions flare between the US and Iran in the Persian Gulf, prices remain at multi-year lows as lockdowns and travel restrictions to fight the virus batter demand and storage facilities are overwhelmed by excess supply.

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