Contrary to what Riyadh and Washington are saying, Saudi Arabia may buy four billion dollars worth of arms from Russia. Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud is ending negotiations on future purchases. A source in the Russian defense industry has said a contract may be signed for the delivery of 150 T-90S tanks for delivery in 2008 – 2009. The source also expects the kingdom to purchase BMP-3 combat infantry vehicles and also more than 100 Mi-35 strike and Mi-17 transport helicopters. The authors give as the reasons for Saudi Arabia’s approaching Russia as the reduction in arms deliveries and cooling of relations between the U.S. and the kingdom after 9/11 when it was discovered most of the terrorists were Saudis.
Source: 23.11.07, Kommersant, Correspondents: Konstantin Lantratov, Aleksandra Gritskova
AFP: Saudi crown prince meets Putin, foresees arms deal
Saudi crown prince meets Putin, foresees arms deal
3 hours ago
MOSCOW (AFP) — Saudi Arabia's Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz held talks here Friday with President Vladimir Putin expected to pave the way for the first purchase of Russian weapons by the kingdom, a close US ally.
Speaking as he met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ahead of his talks with Putin, the crown prince -- who doubles as Saudi defence minister -- gave a nod of approval to Kremlin policy.
"We are satisfied with Russian policy and we hope that it will continue," the prince said.
Putin visited Saudi Arabia last February and Saudi officials said afterwards that the desert kingdom was in negotiations with Moscow over the purchase of Russian weapons systems.
Lavrov described Sultan's meeting with Putin as the "main point" of his visit to Moscow, which he said would focus on implementing agreements penned when Putin went to Riyadh.
"Both sides are satisfied," Lavrov said, adding that Russia-Saudi ties had entered a phase of "intense development."
Officials in Moscow would not provide further information on the agenda for Sultan's talks with Putin.
But a Russian diplomat in Riyadh, speaking earlier this week, said he expected the Moscow talks to produce a "framework agreement for military cooperation" that would open the way for Saudi Arabia to buy Russian arms.
Speaking after Putin's visit to Riyadh, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the desert kingdom was in talks with Russia over the possible purchase of Russian weapons.
"On the armament front, there have been discussions between the two countries.
"They are taking place in accordance with the kingdom's requirements in terms of armament and with what Russia can provide of the kingdom's needs for such equipment," he said.
Saud did not give details, but a diplomatic source in Riyadh had earlier said Putin's talks during his Saudi visit were expected to lead to a "verbal understanding" on the sale of about 150 Russian T-90 battle tanks to the kingdom.
The source said tests were carried out on the T-90 in Saudi Arabia last year to determine the tank's suitability for harsh desert conditions, and Russia is also looking to sell Mi-17 helicopters.
Roy's Russian Aircraft Resource