Putin Heads to Saudi Arabia, Offers Himself as Peacemaker
By Staff, Agencies
Russian President Vladimir Putin travels to Saudi Arabia, a traditional US ally, Monday, offering to act as a peacemaker between Riyadh and Tehran in a diplomatic offensive aimed at balancing Moscow’s relations across the Middle East.
His second aim, say analysts, is to needle Washington. While courting Iran, Russia’s ally in Syria, the Kremlin has also been wooing Tehran’s top foes, Saudi Arabia and the “Israeli” entity, as well as other major powers in the region like Turkey, a member of the US-led NATO Western military alliance.
Putin’s visit coincides with a Pentagon announcement that it is dispatching 3000 additional troops and two squadrons of fighter jets to the Gulf kingdom in an effort, US officials say, to deter Iranian aggression following the drone and Cruise missile attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities last month, which rattled global energy markets and added to war tensions in the Gulf.
Saudi Arabia and the US, as well as other Western powers, blame Iran for the attack.
In recent months, Russia’s president has been assiduously courting Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] in a move which has been compared by some analysts to trolling the US in the Gulf. MBS hasn't discouraged the attention – as much a warning, some analysts say, to Western powers and as a rebuff of their criticism for his human rights record.