Saudi Arabia and Russia sign arms deal

Saudi Arabia and Russia sign arms deal
By Catherine Hardy with REUTERS
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Saudi Arabia has signed a memorandum of understanding on the purchase of S-400 air defence systems from Russia's state arms exporter.


Saudi Arabia has signed a memorandum of understanding on the purchase of S-400 air defence systems from Russia’s state arms exporter.

King Salman, the first sitting Saudi monarch to visit Russia, has led a delegation to Moscow that agreed joint investment deals worth several billion dollars.

Is this the first time Saudi Arabia has bought arms from abroad?

No. Riyadh has bought billions of dollars’ worth of anti-missile technology from the US, including Patriot Missiles, used to shoot down ballistic missiles fired by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen over the past few years.

The Saudis are the second US ally to buy the S-400 system after Turkey agreed to purchase the system from Russia in September.

Which systems are involved?

  • S-400
  • Kornet-EM
  • TOS-1A
  • AGS-30
  • Kalashnikov AK-103

Did they sign anything else?

Yes. A memorandum of understanding to help the kingdom in its efforts to develop its own military industries.

The MOU says the procurement is “based on the assurance of the Russian party to transfer the technology and localise the manufacturing and sustainment of these armament systems in the Kingdom.”

No timeframe has been given for the deal.

What about oil?

Moscow and Riyadh worked together to secure a deal between OPEC and other oil producers to cut output until the end of March 2018.

Analysts say the aim is to push up world prices.

Have there been any political breakthroughs?

Not really, no. There is no sign of any substantial breakthrough on the issues that divide Moscow and Riyadh.

This includes the fact that they back rival sides in Syria’s civil war.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the two leaders had agreed on the importance of fighting terror, finding peaceful solutions to conflicts in the Middle East and on the principle of territorial integrity.

“We believe that new horizons have opened up for the development of our relations that we could not previously have imagined,” the Saudi Foreign Minister said.

“Relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia have reached an historical moment. We are certain that the further strengthening of Russian-Saudi relations will have a positive impact on strengthening stability and security in the region and the world.”

What are the foreign policy challenges like?

Complex. Riyadh supports rebels fighting President Bashar Assad’s forces while Russian troops and Iranian militias have sided with Assad.

This leaves Moscow aligned with Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran, whose influence Riyadh fears is growing in the region.


However, Russia’s military intervention in the Syria conflict has brought about an acknowledgement in Arab capitals that it now has real clout in the Middle East.

What is happening with Saudi Arabia and the UN?

A confidential draft UN blacklist reportedly names a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition for killing and maiming children in Yemen.

However, the leaked document notes that the alliance has put in place measures to improve child protection.

In an effort to dampen controversy controversy surrounding the annual report on children and armed conflict, the list is split into “listed parties that have put in place measures to improve the protection of children” and those which have not.


“In Yemen, the children’s actions objectively led to the listing for the killing and maiming of children, with 683 casualties attributed to this party as a result of being responsible for 38 verified incidents of attacks on schools and hospitals during 2016,” the explanation reportedly reads.

Who else is on the list?

The Houthis, Yemeni government forces, pro-government militia and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

They are listed for violations against children in 2016.

The draft report has to be approved by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
and is subject to change.


It is due to be submitted to the UN Security Council this month. The 15-member body is to discuss the report on October 31.

What has Saudi Arabia said?

The country’s UN ambassador, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, has declined to comment until the report is officially issued.

In August, the Saudi UN mission said there was “no justification whatsoever” for including the coalition on the blacklist.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric says the organisation does not comment on leaked documents.

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