While the Middle East is in a geopolitical turmoil and the US policy towards that region is still unclear, President Putin began his visit to Riyadh on Oct 14th and the strengthening of economic and trade cooperation with Saudi Arabia is almost certain to help stabilize the Gulf situation and further the larger international crude oil market.
Gulf tensions running high the past few months. We are worrying about the geopolitics of the Gulf Region, not only because the oil fields attacks and tanker’s explosion, but also there is existent the traditional structural conflicts in the region such as between Israel and Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Iran and the US etc. As we know, the region is of high importance not only because of its strategic position but also it is affluent oil and gas resources. The Gulf occupies almost the half of the Chinese oil and gas imports.
This time Putin’s visit shows that Russia is going to play more role in the Gulf region which is helpful to the stability of the region as the following points: Russia is a key pole of the international arena, Russia is military power, Russia has been keeping good relationship with Arabian nations and Russia is experienced in for example the Syria issue settlement.
OPEC has successively encountered the withdraw of Qatar and Venezuela’s intention to withdraw. As the leader of OPEC and non-OPEC, Saudi Arabia and Russia are expected to strengthen “OPEC+” cooperation. Both two countries have the common interest in the oil price, preferring to the comparatively higher oil price, as their budget is dependent on their exports. Through the mechanism of OPEC+, the world oil supply and demand could be rebalanced with the aid of more reduction of the oil production.
When the US is expected to become a competitor for Saudi Arabia being the net oil exporter after the American breakthrough in shale oil and gas technoloty, worsens its relationship with Saudi Arabia and withdraws troops from Syria, it seems to slowly withdraw its influence from the Gulf region. Against such a background, Russian presence in the region through its intention on 30 projects of more then 10 billion-contract with Saudi Arabia in energy, military and other areas, particularly highlighted by Putin’s visit is worldly eye-catching.
In all, Russia is expected to play a bigger role in stabilizing this turbulent region and ensuring oil supply security of the world as a whole.
Xu Qinhua：Professor of School of International Studies, Director of Institute of Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Studies; Vice Dean of National Academy of Development and Strategy, Renmin University of China
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