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Daily News Analysis

The west’s wishful speculation about Saudi-Russian differences

Crescent International

The western media continues to speculate about alleged differences between Russia and Saudi Arabia over their divergence of interests regarding the price of oil.

Such wild speculation—the product of western wishful thinking—was laid to rest in the OPEC+ ministerial meeting in Vienna on June 4.

Riyadh and Moscow are unlikely to antagonize each other in the near future or even beyond that.

It is important to understand the reasoning behind Saudi and Russian desire to avoid any conflict to emerge.

Realistic assessment of their relationship is necessary to avoid falling for western propaganda.

Both Riyadh and Moscow know well that any conflict between them would benefit western regimes.

The collective west led by the US has a long history of stoking conflict between countries.

The aim is to engulf others in conflict so it can accrue benefit from it.

Russia knows that it cannot afford to lose cash-flushed Saudi Arabia and push it into the camp of its strategic geopolitical adversaries.

Saudis on the other hand realize that if Russia is significantly weakened, western regimes are unlikely to let Riyadh off the hook lightly due to the kingdom’s uncharacteristically adversarial policies undermining western primacy at a crucial time in their geopolitical confrontation with Russia and China.

Saudi-Russian cooperation is a win-win for both states.

It allows Riyadh to avoid American pressure and at the same time make financial gains through economic mechanisms not under western dominance.

For Moscow a cordial relationship with Saudi Arabia provides it with yet another financial route in limiting the effects of western economic warfare.

Through a workable relationship with Saudi Arabia, Moscow gains indirect access to the western-controlled global financial system.

Such an arrangement enables Moscow to continue evading the US-led sanctions.

At the economic level, Saudi Arabia is likely to extract concessions from Moscow as it tries to fill the vacuum created by the withdrawal of western companies from Russia.

This will enable Russia to open another economic lifeline.

Saudi relationship with the Kremlin also allows Riyadh to use its connections with Russia as a leverage in deterring Washington from taking any steps against the rule of Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).

If the Saudis spoil their relationship with Moscow, they will be left with no leverage with which to blackmail western powers.

However, it is unlikely that Riyadh and Moscow will become strategic allies, at least not in the near future.

Russia knows that the Saudi regime is not based on any principles; it is purely a persona-based regime with no state strategy.

MbS can, one fine morning, wake up and decide to switch to staunchly pro-western policies.

The Saudi regime does not serve the interests of its people.

On the contrary, the state serves the clique in power which means MbS and his hangers-on.

Moscow is, therefore, unlikely to rely on Saudi Arabia on important matters.

Where Saudi Arabia uses its relationship with Russia to escape from the stifling embrace of the US, it also needs Moscow’s help to facilitate its smooth entry into BRICS.

Saudi Arabia has formally applied for BRICS membership.

It has also sought to join the New Development Bank, the multilateral development bank established by BRICS member states that is headquartered in Shanghai, China.

In addition to Saudi Arabia, 18 other countries including Iran, the UAE, Qatar, Algeria, Egypt, Venezuela and a host of others have applied for full membership of the bloc.

In terms of the balance of power, Riyadh and Moscow enjoy equal capabilities in undermining the other.

Russia has little to lose, as it is already cut off from western economic and political mechanisms.

Thus, if the Saudis try to double cross Russia, there is nothing holding Moscow back from initiating harsh responses against Saudi interests in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria.

On the other hand, the Kremlin knows that the west can use the Saudis once again a la the late 1990s via the Salafi card to ignite instability in predominantly Muslim regions of Russia.

Given the above reality, it is safe to assume that the Saudis and Russians need each other to use as a blackmailing card against the west in the near to medium term.

Thus, whatever disagreements they may have, both Russia and Saudi Arabia will work hard to avoid turning any differences into a full-blown conflict.

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