Saudi Arabia signs key arms deals in Russia visit

Saudi Arabia signs key arms deals in Russia visit
3 min read
05 October, 2017
Saudi Arabia on Thursday signed preliminary agreements to buy S-400 defence systems and receive cutting edge technologies from Russia during King Salman's landmark visit to Moscow.

Saudi Arabia on Thursday signed preliminary agreements to buy S-400 defence systems and receive cutting edge technologies from Russia during King Salman's landmark visit to Moscow.

The agreement was announced as King Salman, who is on the first official trip to Russia by a Saudi monarch, and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks at the Kremlin.

"This is the first visit by a Saudi Arabian monarch in the history of our relations and that in itself is a landmark event," Putin said as he welcomed King Salman to Moscow in an ornate gilded Kremlin hall.

"I'm sure your visit will boost the ties between our countries," he said. 

"We aim to strengthen our relations in the interests of peace and security, in the interests of developing the world economy," the Saudi king responded.

Military deals

Under the agreements, Saudi Arabia is set to buy S-400 air defence systems, Kornet anti-tank guided missile systems and multiple rocket launchers.

These agreements are "expected to play a pivotal role in the growth and development of the military and military systems industry in Saudi Arabia," Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), the Kingdom's military industries firm said.

"The memorandum of understanding includes the transfer of technology for the local production" of the Kornet anti-tank guided missile systems, advanced multiple rocket launchers and automatic grenade launchers.

"In addition, the parties will cooperate in setting a plan to localise the manufacturing and sustainment of parts of the S-400 air defence system," SAMI said.

The two countries also agreed on the production in Saudi Arabia of the Kalashnikov automatic rifle and its ammunition as well as educational and training programmes for Saudi nationals.

"These agreements are expected to have tangible economic contributions and create hundreds of direct jobs," the company said.

They "will also transfer cutting edge technologies that will act as a catalyst for localising 50 percent of the Kingdom’s military spending."

Rosoboronexport, Russia's state-owned arms exporter, had no immediate comment on the agreements.

Russia has also sold advanced missile defence system technology to Iran as well as signing an arms deal with Turkey. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced in September that Ankara had paid a deposit on a $2.5 billion arms deal with Moscow to purchase Russia's S-400 missile system.

Energy agreements

Citing Russia's energy minister Alexander Novak, the Financial Times reported that Russia and Saudi Arabia were expected to sign deals worth over $3 billion, including a $1 billion energy investment fund and a $1.1 billion agreement for Russia's petrochemicals giant Sibur to build a plant in Saudi Arabia.

The head of Saudi's state-owned oil giant Aramco Amin Nasser told Rossiya 24 state television ahead of the talks that the company would sign agreements with Russia's Gazprom, Gazprom Neft and Sibur energy companies as well as with an affiliate of Lukoil.

Russia and Saudi Arabia are heavily dependent on oil exports and the global plunge of the price of crude that began in 2014 lashed both their economies.

OPEC members have joined with Russia and other countries in cutting crude output in a pact that has helped prop up prices.