Saudi Arabia to buy air defence systems from Russia

King Salman, who is on the first official trip to Russia by a Saudi monarch, and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks at the Kremlin yesterday.
King Salman, who is on the first official trip to Russia by a Saudi monarch, and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks at the Kremlin yesterday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MOSCOW • Saudi Arabia has signed preliminary agreements to buy S-400 air defence systems from Russia during King Salman's landmark visit to Moscow, where he would also discuss extending an Opec agreement to cap oil output.

The arms agreement was announced as King Salman, who is on the first official trip to Russia by a Saudi monarch, and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks at the Kremlin.

Under the agreements, Saudi Arabia is set to buy S-400 air defence systems, Kornet anti-tank guided missile systems and multiple rocket launchers.

These agreements are "expected to play a pivotal role in the growth and development of the military and military systems industry in Saudi Arabia", Saudi Arabian Military Industries (Sami), the Sunni state's military industries firm said.

"The memorandum of understanding includes the transfer of technology for the local production" of the Kornet anti-tank guided missile systems, advanced multiple rocket launchers and automatic grenade launchers, said Sami.

While Saudi Arabia made no firm pledge yesterday to extend the deal between the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), Russia and other producers on cutting supplies, it said it was "flexible" regarding Moscow's suggestion to prolong the pact until the end of next year.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said this in an interview with Al Arabiya television a day after Mr Putin said the supply reduction deal that is due to expire in March could run to the end of next year.

Saudi Arabia and Russia helped secure the deal between Opec and 10 rival suppliers to cut output until the end of March next year in an effort to reduce a glut.

Oil rose above US$56 a barrel yesterday, supported by expectations of an extension to the supply-cut pact. But prices are still half their mid-2014 levels.

Citing Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, the Financial Times reported that Russia and Saudi Arabia were expected to sign deals worth over US$3 billion.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2017, with the headline 'Saudi Arabia to buy air defence systems from Russia'. Print Edition | Subscribe