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Trump visits Saudi Arabia, Kremlin shrugs

Russia may be keeping quiet publicly about Donald Trump’s relations with Saudi Arabia, but Trump’s recent trip to the kingdom raises some interesting questions for Moscow.
(Front R-L) Jordan's King Abdullah II, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan pose for a photo during Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX36UAJ

Kremlin officials have adopted a remarkably benign public attitude toward US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, which included a speech at an Arab Islamic American Summit denouncing Iran, meetings with Saudi and other regional leaders, and an agreement to sell $110 billion in advanced weapons to the kingdom. Nevertheless, their private views may be less sanguine.

Referring to the arms deal, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, “I will leave this without comment.” Neither Putin nor Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have mentioned Trump’s trip, although Putin highlighted Moscow’s cooperation with Riyadh in maintaining stable global oil prices shortly beforehand. Notably, however, Russia’s Security Council met a few days later, while Trump was in Europe, and “discussed the ongoing operation of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria in the context of international developments.” This bland phrasing appears to refer to a conversation about the implications for Moscow of Trump’s visit.

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