Saudi Arabia has signed a military agreement with Russia on 24th August. Saudi deputy minister of defence Khalid bin Salman confirmed on Twitter on Tuesday that the kingdom and Russia signed an agreement aimed at developing areas of joint military cooperation between the two countries.
No immediate details of the military agreement have been released so far. Russia is the second-largest weapons exporter after the United States in the world. Saudi Arabia had traditionally imported weapons from the United States. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Saudi Arabia has procured 24 per cent of arms since 2016–20.
Met with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu to explore ways to strengthen the military and defense cooperation between our two countries. We discussed our common endeavor to preserve stability and security in the region, and reviewed shared challenges facing our countries. pic.twitter.com/T7lVdITZPt
— Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان (@kbsalsaud) August 23, 2021
Defence Minister Salman also met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during his visit outside Moscow to the arms expo International Military-Technical Forum Army-2021. Shoigu told Salaman that “We aim for a progressive development of cooperation in military and military-technical fields on the entire spectrum of issues that pose mutual interest.”
#Russia 🇷🇺 and Saudi Arabia 🇸🇦 signed a military cooperation agreement
Khalid bin Salman is at the Army-2021 technical forum and Russia is advertising the military technology it used in #Syria 🇸🇾
— Samuel Ramani (@SamRamani2) August 24, 2021
Saudi Arabia acknowledged the Russian state of the art weaponry as its capabilities delivered in Syria to support Bashar-Al Assad’s regime.
KSA’s defence deficiencies
Saudi Arabia has been closely eyeing Russian S400 systems as it faces aerial threats since the 2015 Yemen intervention. Despite the recent thaw in their engagement, Saudi Arabia and Iran have been embroiled in proxy battles across the region to overpower each other’s influence.
Saudi Arabia signed a deal with the US in 2017 for the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), but its delivery is likely around 2023.
King Salman’s October 2017 visit to Moscow, entailed a memorandum of understanding between Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) and Rosoboronexport to support wider defence development. Russians and Saudis continued S-400 procurement discussions in February 2018. President Vladimir Putin in 2019 said that “Saudi Arabia just needs to make a wise state decision,” clearly hinting at the S400 purchase.
While Saudi Arabia can continue signing agreements with big powers, it understands that there’s a need to assess its own defence infrastructure to address the divides that exist within policy and practicality.
Another strategic US ally – Saudi Arabia – signed an agreement aimed at developing areas of joint military cooperation with Russia. https://t.co/43CxDO5rrF
— Velina Tchakarova (@vtchakarova) August 24, 2021
Recently, India received the green signal from Russia that its purchase will be sent by the end of 2021. Turkey is also in the stages of negotiating a new S400 deal with Russia.