Will Russian-Saudi Relations Continue to Improve?

What Their Recent Summit Means for the Relationship

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabian King Salman attend a welcoming ceremony ahead of their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, October 2017. Alexei Nikolsky / REUTERS

On October 5, King Salman became the first ever Saudi monarch to visit Russia. President Vladimir Putin, who first invited the king to Moscow more than two years ago, hailed the visit as a “landmark event.” Billboards lined city streets welcoming the king in Arabic and Russian, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had strong words of praise for Saudi Arabia’s leadership.

After the summit, Salman and Putin signed a packet of documents on energy, trade, and defense, and agreed to several billion dollars’ worth of joint investment. In addition, there are reports that Saudi Arabia agreed to purchase Russia’s S-400 air defense system, making it the second U.S. ally to do so. (Turkey was the first.)

The summit is just one more milestone in the recent trend of warming Russian-Saudi ties. In June 2015, then-Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attended the annual St. Petersburg Economic Forum—the first

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