HomeWorld NewsPutin, Saudi Crown Prince discuss further OPEC+ cooperation

Riyadh:

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed further cooperation on oil prices on Wednesday as members of OPEC+, a Kremlin spokesman was quoted as saying.

A Saudi account of the meeting said the Crown Prince praised joint coordination between the two countries “which has helped ease tensions in the Middle East”.

The hastily arranged talks between Putin and the crown prince, the de facto ruler of the world’s biggest crude oil exporter, came hours after the Kremlin leader visited Saudi Arabia’s Gulf neighbor, the United Arab Emirates.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying that cooperation would continue within OPEC+, which includes the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia-led allies.

The meeting came as oil prices fell despite OPEC+’s pledge to further cut production.

“We talked again about cooperation in OPEC+,” Peskov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “The parties agree that our countries have a greater responsibility for the negotiations to maintain international energy markets in a fair, stable, predictable state.”

Reading Russia’s Putin meets Saudi Crown Prince in stormy Gulf visit

Putin, who has rarely left Russia since sending troops to Ukraine in February 2022, was also expected to discuss the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

“We share many interests and many files on which we are working together for the benefit of Russia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and the world,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted the crown prince as saying.

In remarks at the beginning of their talks shown earlier on Russian television, Putin thanked MBS for his invitation, as the crown prince is widely known. He originally hoped to visit Moscow, “but there were changes in plans”.

Their next meeting should be held in Moscow, he said, and “nobody can stop the development of our friendly relations.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry had earlier shown the Kremlin chief’s Ilyushin-96 aircraft alongside Sukhoi-35S fighter jets during a flight from Russia to the UAE.

Putin’s delegation included top oil, economy, foreign affairs, space, nuclear energy officials and business leaders.

On his first stop in Abu Dhabi, President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan welcomed his “dear friend” while UAE jets fly-past with the colors of the Russian flag.

Read more Oil stabilizes after recession on OPEC+ cuts

Putin told him, “Our relations, largely because of your position, have reached an unprecedentedly high level.” “The UAE is Russia’s main trading partner in the Arab world.”

Putin said Russia and the UAE cooperate as part of OPEC+, whose members pump more than 40% of the world’s oil, adding that they would discuss the Israel-Hamas conflict and Ukraine.

His first face-to-face talks with MBS since October 2019 came days after the OPEC+ meeting was delayed due to disagreements – which was supposed to have led to MBS’s visit to Moscow.

Putin’s last visit to the region was in July 2022, when he met Supreme Leader in Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Russian president was due to host his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi in Moscow on Thursday.

close relationships

Putin and MBS, who together control a fifth of the oil pumped daily, have long had close ties, although both have at times been ostracized by the West.

At the G20 summit in 2018, two months after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate, Putin and MBS met warmly and shook hands with smiles.

MBS has sought to re-establish Saudi Arabia as a regional power with little regard for the United States, which supplies Riyadh with most of its weapons.

Putin says Russia is engaged in an existential battle with the West and has added allies in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia amid Western efforts to isolate Moscow.

Read more Oil rises more than 2% as focus on OPEC+ cuts

Both MBS and Putin need higher prices for oil, the lifeblood of their economies. The question is how much of the burden each should bear to keep prices up – and how to verify their contribution.

Last month, OPEC+ delayed the meeting by several days due to disagreements over production levels. The Saudi energy minister said OPEC+ also wants more assurances from Moscow that it will honor its pledge to reduce fuel exports.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia in OPEC+ have at times been uneasy. An agreement on export cuts almost broke down in March 2020, but they managed to reach a compromise within weeks and OPEC+ agreed to a record cut of nearly 10% in global demand.

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