Saudi energy minister hails Russia ties during surprise visit to St Petersburg
After a meeting with the Russian deputy PM, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said Russia-Saudi relations were 'as good as the weather in Riyadh'
By News Desk - June 17 2022

(Photo credit: AP)

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman held talks with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak at the St Petersburg Economic Forum in Russia on 16 June, after arriving on a surprise visit to Russia.

The Saudi official was not listed as an official guest at the economic forum. His visit came as many other guests avoided the annual event in protest of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

After the hour-long meeting, the Saudi energy minister said Russia-Saudi relations were “as good as the weather in Riyadh.”

Novak, meanwhile, announced that it is likely Russia could continue cooperating within the OPEC+ oil production agreement beyond 2022.

“Everything will depend on the market situation – whether it will require any quotas or whether it will be a charter-based cooperation,” he said. “It will be clear by the year end.”

Since the start of the Ukraine conflict, Russia has been pumping less oil than the current OPEC+ quota calls for, as a result of severe western sanctions.

In May, however, Russia’s oil production increased by five percent from the prior month, totaling 43.1 million tons with an average 10.2 million barrels per day.

With Moscow finding strong demand from India and China, the Russian deputy PM has promised to increase production next month.

The surprise visit of Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman to Russia came just two days after the White House ended weeks of speculation and formally announced Joe Biden will meet with the Saudi crown prince in Riyadh next month.

In the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, Biden promised to make the kingdom a “pariah” and to have MbS “pay the price” for the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A US intelligence report released by the Biden White House in February 2021 concluded that MbS “approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”

However, amid a worsening energy crisis battering the west, the US president has been forced to do an about-face on his earlier remarks, in an effort to drive down fuel prices.

Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden and other western leaders have tried and failed to convince their Gulf allies to break with their OPEC+ commitments and increase oil production.

The leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE in particular snubbed calls by the US president, choosing instead to strengthen ties with Moscow.

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