Russia-KSA relations may reach level of strategic partnership: Ru. Amb
Saudi Arabia and Russia are continuing to bolster their ties as the West seeks to isolate Moscow and condemn Saudi Arabia.
Russia and Saudi Arabia are effectively cooperating in the energy sector and within the framework of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+), Russian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sergei Kozlov told Russian news agency Sputnik.
"The expediency and effectiveness of such cooperation in the global dimension have been confirmed in practice. This is evident from various crisis situations, including the most difficult period of the coronavirus pandemic," Kozlov said.
The Kremlin said in late January that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed, via a phone call, the importance of cooperation within OPEC+ to safeguard the stability of the global oil market.
According to the diplomat, the coordinated actions of the largest oil producers have made it possible to stabilize energy markets to a large extent.
"In the current situation, this work continues to be in demand," he added, stressing that Riyadh believed that the introduction of various kinds of illegitimate restrictions, such as sanctions and price caps, only fuels uncertainty and unpredictability in the global energy sector.
A new package of sanctions against Russian oil went into effect earlier this month, with the EU agreeing on a $100 per barrel ceiling for Russian diesel fuel, and $45 per barrel for discounted products such as fuel oil.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said his country would voluntarily reduce oil production by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) in March in order to contribute to the restoration of market relations.
"Russia will voluntarily cut production by 500,000 barrels per day in March. This will contribute to the restoration of market relations. When making further decisions, we will make decisions based on the current market situation," the Russian diplomat told a briefing.
Moreover, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman considered in December 2022 that the impact of European sanctions and the G7 imposed price cap on Russian oil "did not bring clear results yet."
Further military cooperation
Russia and Saudi Arabia have also bolstered their efforts to expand military-technical cooperation amid Riyadh’s focus on diversifying defense capabilities, Kozlov said.
"Relevant work in this area has recently intensified significantly. In particular, this is evidenced by regular bilateral contacts, including such a working format as the joint Russian-Saudi intergovernmental commission on military-technical cooperation," the ambassador added.
He also told Sputnik that Saudi Arabia is looking for other potential military cooperation partners amid tensions with Washington, and US threats to reassess the parameters of relations with Saudi Arabia, including the military aspect.
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Saudi Arabia and Russia are partners in OPEC+. However, Western sanctions have forced Moscow to enter Riyadh's regular markets in Asia with low-cost crude, forcing the kingdom to sell more in Europe.
OPEC+ agreed last year to reduce its production target by 2 million barrels per day, or about 2% of global demand, from November to the end of 2023. This caused issues between Saudi Arabia and the United States, as the latter saw Riyadh as Moscow-leaning.
According to Kozlov, Moscow's relations with Riyadh may reach the level of a strategic partnership.
"A feature of our political interaction with the Kingdom, which has a real prospect of reaching the level of strategic partnership, is a regular and trusting dialogue at the highest level," the ambassador told Sputnik.
Kozlov added that political relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia have had a steady tendency to progressively develop in recent years, and the basis for this is a common approach to most international and regional issues.
He further noted that there were prerequisites for growing trade between the two in 2023, with the parties seeking to reach an indicator of $5 billion "in the foreseeable future."
Bilateral trade and economic ties between the countries are characterized by positive dynamics, but in January-November 2022, Russian-Saudi trade has slightly decreased, the Russian ambassador revealed.
"But the volume of $1.6 billion is quite significant. In our opinion, there are good prerequisites for further growth in 2023," he said. "Moreover, both the Russian and Saudi sides intend to reach the indicator of $5 billion in the foreseeable future, outlined by the top leadership of Russia and Saudi Arabia."
Moscow, according to Kozlov, considers Riyadh a promising trade and economic partner, whose role in global and regional affairs is steadily increasing.