Skip to main content

Tensions rise between Saudis, Russians

Russia's controversial policies in the Middle East have brought increasing friction with Saudi Arabia — both in the region and inside Russia — to new heights.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin (L) and Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) of Saudi Arabia talk through their interpreters during a plenary session at the G20 leaders summit in Brisbane November 15, 2014. Western leaders attending the G20 summit blasted Putin on Saturday for the crisis in Ukraine, threatening further sanctions if Russia did not withdraw troops and weapons from its neighbouring nation. REUTERS/Rob Griffith/Pool   (AUSTRALIA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS ROYALS) - RTR4E8XK

While the United States is widely considered Russia’s principal rival in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia may well be taking second place. Moreover, not unlike Moscow’s suspicions toward Washington, Russian officials and analysts have often seen a Saudi hand in problems closer to home, in Russia’s neighboring countries and even within Russia itself. Russian-Saudi tensions thus seem unlikely to lessen anytime soon.

Some of the strains in Russia’s relations with Saudi Arabia derive from the kingdom’s long-standing role as one of America’s closest and strongest allies in the Middle East.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.