Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is in Saudi Arabia to visit with top Saudi leaders, his first trip to the Kingdom in over a decade.
The visit is a sign of Russia’s “growing Middle East clout,” Reuters reports, as tensions brew in regional hotspots where Russia and Saudi Arabia’s interests diverge.
Putin will sign oil agreements, which will be the main topic of discussion for his meetings in Riyadh, and the powerful Russian leader will also work to “defuse rising tensions in the Gulf,” according to France 24. Although Russia is not a member of OPEC, the nation has been working with OPEC in an organization dubbed “OPEC+” in pursuit of market stability.
The visit is two years after King Salman made his first visit to Russia in 2017.
“We will absolutely work with Saudi Arabia and our other partners and friends in the Arab world… to reduce to zero any attempt to destabilise the oil market,” Putin said in an interview with Arabic language media outlets ahead of his visit.
Russia also hopes to play a role as mediator between Saudi Arabia and regional rival Iran.