The foreign Minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov has held a press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, following President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Saudi King Salman, the first of its kind on Russia soil.
The overall tone of the press conference was one of businesslike cordiality which affirmed Sergev Lavrov’s recent statement before journalists at the United Nations that in geo-politics, like in one’s personal life, it is important to talk with friends and ostensible adversaries. But while much of the media has been fixated on the historic differences in Moscow and Riyadh’s foreign policy, today’s meeting was all about bilateral business deals.
Such deals included the sale of Russia’s S-400 defensive missile system to Saudi Arabia. This has obvious parallels to Turkeys’ recent purchase of an S-400 system. Turkey, like Saudi Arabia is a traditional US ally, but each country has seen the logistical and cost benefits of Russia’s famed missile defence system. The US weapons monopoly on Saudi has officially been broken.
Sergey Lavrov spoke first, describing the series of meetings between government and business leaders from the two countries as “friendly and constructive”.
He then described the various agreements made on trade, investment and cultural exchange, including cooperation in respect of building nuclear power facilities in Saudi, space exploration and infrastructure.
Lavrov further stated that the heads of Russian and Saudi companies had deeply constructive talks.
Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir then offered warm words for his Russian hosts. The Saudi Foreign Minister spoke of reaching “new horizons which we couldn’t even imagine in the past” and thanked the leaders of Russian government for making this possible at many levels.
Continuing the warm tone, Al-Jubeir stated that Saudi considers Russia to be a neighbourly country as “we are not far from one another” and that furthermore, “we have shared episodes in history”.
The most important element to Al-Jubeir’s speech came next when he said that both Russia and Saudi do not interfere in the domestic issues of other nations. He further stated that both countries reject the idea of “imposing strange and alien principles unto other societies”.
While this claim is factually dubious at best seeing as Saudi is well known for spending millions on spreading Wahhabi ideology throughout the world, the intent of the statement is more important than its factual merits.
Al-Jubeir’s statement represents a clear inference to the United States, which for decades has exercised a foreign policy designed to put in friendly regimes throughout the world which are putatively modelled on the US style of governance. While Saudi has tended to support such efforts, the statement criticising the US model of foreign policy, made while in Russia, is a clear sign that even Saudi Arabia seeks to distance itself from the increasingly failed US geo-political framework.
Additionally, the statement also shows that as an ally of the US, Saudi rejects the Russiagate theory, by affirming that far from meddling in countries like the US, Russia doesn’t have an interest in modifying the internal workings of any state. In this sense, Saudi distanced its public image from the US by parsing Russian pragmatism while rejecting the mainstay of US propaganda against Russia over the last year.
In many ways this statement was the highest compliment a US ally could give to Russia. It was a clear sign that even a country as entrenched in the US geo-political system as Saudi Arabia is serious about diversifying its geo-political and geo-economic strategy.
Now watch the full press conference between Sergey Lavrov and Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.