Saudi Arabia is currently in talks with Russia regarding the purchase of arms and military hardware. Konstantin Birulin, deputy director of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation stated that the sides were discussing possible forms of cooperation on all forms of arms.
Therefore, Moscow has officially confirmed the fact of the talks, which reportedly started in 2007.
Saudi arms market has been controlled by the USA and Britain since Soviet times. Saudi kings were seriously concerned about the USSR’s intentions to establish pro-communist regimes in Arab states. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Arab states preferred to stick with their old partners.
In 2007, when Russia’s Putin arrived in Saudi Arabia for official talks, it became clear that the state of affairs may change. Putin had a meeting with Saudi King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al Saud. Among other issues, the officials discussed the question of Russia’s possible military cooperation with Saudi Arabia.
In October, French media reported that Riyadh had signed an agreement with Moscow to purchase over 150 Russia’s Mi-35 helicopters (Hind on NATO classification) and Mi-17 (Hip). The deal was reportedly evaluated at over $2 billion. In addition, Arabia signed a contract with Russia to purchase state-of-the-art missile defense systems. The contract was about S-400 and Buk-M2E systems.
The information about those contracts has never been acknowledged officially.
The information about the Russia-Arab arms contract transpired again in May of 2008. News agencies reported a much bigger number - $4 billion. The news has never received an official confirmation either. Now it has been officially said that, at least, Russia and Saudi Arabia conduct talks on the subject – on all types of arms.
It is not ruled out that Russia will shatter the USA’s monopoly of the arms market of Saudi Arabia.
Konstantin Sivkov, the vice president of the Academy for Geopolitical Problems, said that the negotiations between Russia and Saudi Arabia testified to the fact that international politics was changing against the background of the ongoing financial crisis.
“The USA is currently programmed for aggression. Its total debt exceeds the nation’s GDP several times. America’s, perhaps, only way out is to control energy sources. Riyadh is perfectly aware of danger that is coming from Washington now. They know how the USA’s friendship with Iraq ended, and they do not want that to repeat, of course.
“I should mention another interesting aspect. Modern-day Western arms are produced with special chips which make it impossible to use the weapons against the manufacturing country and its allies. It may mean that Saudi Arabia does not exclude a possible military confrontation with the West. Finally, Saudi Arabia does not perceive Moscow as an enemy. Quite on the contrary – it’s a potential partner,” the expert said.
Anatoly Tsyganok, another military expert, told Pravda.Ru that Saudi Arabia was seeking a change for the list of its defense partners. One of the reasons is the fact that the USA virtually failed to execute the contract for the delivery of high-precision bombs to Riyadh in 2007. US officials said that the bombs could have been supposedly delivered to terrorists.
“The price and quality factor is another important aspect. Russian-made arms are three times less expensive that their US analogues. They are perfectly adapted for desert operations too,” the expert concluded.