Jul 21, 2022 - World

Putin and MBS discuss oil less than week after Biden visit to Saudi Arabia

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in June 2019. Photo: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP via Getty Image

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone on Thursday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and discussed oil production and his latest visit to Iran, according to the Kremlin.

Why it matters: The phone call took place less than a week after President Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, which was aimed in part at pressing the kingdom to increase oil production.

Driving the news: Putin and MBS on Thursday stressed the friendly relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia and discussed the global oil market and expanding trade and economic ties, according to the Kremlin readout of the call.

  • “The importance of further coordination within the framework of OPEC+ was emphasized," the Kremlin said.
  • Both leaders noted that OPEC and its allied producers “are consistently fulfilling their obligations in order to maintain the necessary balance and stability in the global energy market," the readout added.
  • Putin and MBS also discussed Syria and Putin's trilateral meeting in Tehran with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi earlier this week.

The big picture: During his summit with nine Arab leaders in Jeddah last week, Biden made clear that the U.S. continues to be engaged in the Middle East.

  • Ahead of the summit, the White House released intelligence about Iranian plans to sell hundreds of armed drones to Russia for the war in Ukraine. Some saw this as an attempt to drive a wedge between Russia and the Gulf states.
  • Meanwhile, Putin's summit in Tehran on Tuesday was perceived as a signal that he too has allies in the region.

Between the lines: Thursday's phone call between MBS and the Russian president serves both Putin who wants to show Biden’s visit didn’t harm relations between Russia and the Saudi crown prince who wants to signal he is not in Biden’s pocket.

What to watch: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will arrive in Cairo on Sunday to address senior officials from all 22 Arab League member states in another effort by Russia to maintain its engagement with the Arab world after Biden’s visit.

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