Russia’s Shadow in the Middle East: Riyadh – Moscow Nuclear Agreement


During his official visit to Russian Federation, deputy of crown prince and minister of defense of Saudi Arabia – prince Muhammad Bin Salman, held a long negotiation with Russian president Vladimir Putin, concerning the new agreements on military co-operation and economic co-operation between two states. For the first time, state officials discussed the situation in the Middle East, particularly in Syria and Yemen. Prince was assured that Russia is not aimed to change its positions in Syrian crisis and this point prevents two countries from being the closest allies.

But despite this fact, it seems to be like Saudi Arabia decided to rekindle bilateral contacts with Moscow, which is also interested in it. Prince Muhammad Salman arrived in Saint Petersburg after V. Putin sent an official invitation to Saudi King Salman. The most significant agreement deals on peaceful nuclear cooperation between two states. Saudi Arabia which has no industrial nuclear plants signed a new deal regarding this issue. Thus, Russian owned “Rosatom”company to launch new prospective projects in Saudi Arabia including the construction of new nuclear power reactors. [1]

Saudi Arabia confirmed all agreements because it has quite great plans – construction of 16 nuclear power reactors. According to some experts Saudis are aimed to do it several years ago as retaliation to Iran’s nuclear program but such efforts were halted by its Western allies. But now after the U.S had reached final agreement with Iran, Saudi Arabia is willing to create its own nuclear power despite dissatisfaction of U.S. Moreover, Saudi prince expressed his willingness to sign new arm deal with Russian Federation to sustain Saudi army with new ballistic missile system. For the first time Riyadh was eager to buy Russia made S-300 missile system in order to impede country territory from possible attacks of Iran in the Gulf. Now it is not secret that after sanctions will lift up Iran definitely is going to buy new missile systems from Russia.

Saudis are ready to pay huge sum to get the newest version of missile system S-400, as well as T-90 tanks, and M-17 helicopters. In 2013, Riyadh offered to official Moscow new arm deal for 6 billion US dollars, instead to avoid from supporting of Assad’s regime in Syria. If to talk exactly about military cooperation, according to some non-official sources Saudis interested in buying the most powerful Russian missile system – “Iskander-M”. Now it is not clear why Saudis are exactly interested in this missile system, because one of significant characteristic of missile system is that, it is can also carry nuclear warheads. Does Saudi Arabia want to send a warning signal to U.S?

Russia realises the importance of having a significant and strong strategic partner in the Middle East, and to achieve this it is prepared to change some of its political stances. Russia stands to benefit enormously from the agreements which, in addition to improving its economy, will reinforce the Gulf nations’ trust in it. This would eventually lead to a change in its diplomatic and political positions vis-à-vis the specific issues of Syria, Iran and Yemen. [2] Russia has always been an important country. It has recently decided to be an active key player in the region, at a time when the current US administration chose to boost relations with official Tehran.

Aftermath, Saudi Arabia decided to take an unusual opposing line to Washington because of nuclear deal. For more than 20 years Saudis supported the West’s sanction policy towards Tehran, but now within the framework of P5+1 Iran got an opportunity to join the world economic market. Now Riyadh is completely against nuclear deal with Iran, while blaming up that Iran is provoking bloodshed struggles in Yemen and Iraq. Unlike the Western mass media which accuses Russia in supporting of Iran and Syria’s Assad, Saudi ambassador to Moscow Abdulrahman Al-Rassi as saying that Moscow plays an “important” role in implementing a United Nations Security Council call to “maintain stability and security in the world” — apparently a reference to a UN resolution urging the withdrawal of the Iranian-backed Houthi militias from Yemen. [3] Signing of the new arm deal with the richest country of Middle East gives a wide floor to Russia to exert its influence in the region.

In the last six months, Russia has struck three significant nuclear deals with long-time U.S. Middle East allies, effectively capitalizing on regional distrust of Iran. In February, a deal was sealed with the Egyptian government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to help Cairo build and operate its first nuclear reactor. A month later, in March, Jordan signed a $10 billion deal with Russia to build the kingdom’s first nuclear power plant, with two 1,000-megawatt reactors in the country’s north. And in June, Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to a deal, the terms of which are not public. [4] The real reasons behind such attempts of U.S allies – Egypt, Jordan and Saudi felt abandoned or even betrayed by U.S.

U.S and Europe signed a nuclear agreement with Iran in terms of to make sure that a real risk of nuclear conflict in the region has been revoked. It would give a chance to U.S and allies to concentrate on other problems in the Middle East as Syria and Iraq. This point was supported by German FM in his latest article, in which he underlined that it is time to deal with Syria after Iran. But agreement of Saudis with Russia would be the next step of destabilization of the region and would have a negative impact on the national security of the European Union.


for CESRAN International (original publishing)

[1] Al-Arabi: Russia and Saudi Arabia sign nuclear deal; URL:

[2] The National: Agreements between Saudi and Russia will affect the whole region; URL:

[3] Time of Israel: Saudis said set to build 16 nuclear reactors with Russian help; URL:

[4] Fox News: Catherine Herridge “Iran nuclear deal fuels Middle East arms race, boosts Russia’s influence”; URL: