Saudi-Russian Relations: Alignment of Visions and Mutual Interests

The Saudi-Russian relations have flourished over the past ninety years, characterized by shared understanding, aligned visions, and mutual interests. This strategic partnership has enhanced the considerable potential of both Saudi Arabia and Russia in various domains, with the leadership of both nations prioritizing their development to benefit their people.
The political relationship between the two countries traces its roots to 1926 when the Soviet Union became the first nation worldwide to recognize the establishment of the Kingdom.
In 1930, the Soviet consulate in Jeddah was elevated to the status of an embassy, solidifying diplomatic ties between the two nations.
The foundation of Saudi-Russian relations was laid during the historic visit of King Faisal bin Abdulaziz to Moscow in 1932 under the directives of King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman.
The relationship entered a new phase with mutual visits. On September 17, 1990, diplomatic relations were officially resumed through a joint statement, emphasizing a solid foundation and principles for cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
This cooperation comes as the mutual understanding between the two countries continues, progressing to advanced stages supported by the international partnership that brought them together in the G20 group, which includes 20 of the world’s strongest economies. This partnership has further enhanced their relations and promoted more cooperation in political, economic, scientific, cultural, and energy fields.
Under the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and in response to an invitation from the Russian government, His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, visited Russia on June 18, 2015. This visit significantly strengthened the Saudi-Russian rapprochement, advanced common interests, and ensured regional security.
To strengthen bilateral relations, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the 2015 G20 Summit in Antalya. The two leaders discussed areas of cooperation and exchanged views on regional developments and events.
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, who led the Kingdom’s delegation to the G20 Summit in Hangzhou in 2016, held a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of the ongoing communication between the two nations.
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince visited Russia on May 30, 2017, upon the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and a submitted invitation from President Putin to discuss mutual relations and enhance aspects of cooperation.
Additionally, under the leadership and directive of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and President Putin, they have managed to bridge the two countries’ views by mutual understanding of the circumstances and position of the region’s issues.
The visits between the two countries culminated with the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to Moscow in October 2017, the first visit of a Saudi king to Moscow, amidst a distinguished celebration from President Putin.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Russian president met to discuss mutual relations and ways to strengthen and develop them in all fields.
During the visit, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques received an honorary doctorate from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince visited Russia in June 2018 upon an issued directive from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and a presented invitation from President Putin to attend the opening ceremony of the 21st World Cup and the match between the Saudi national team and its Russian counterpart.
The Russian visits to the Kingdom continued to consolidate and enhance mutual relations, including the official visit of President Putin to the Kingdom in October 2019, during which the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques held an official discussion session with him in the presence of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince.
The governments of Saudi Arabia and Russia signed a charter of cooperation and exchange of agreements, which aims to develop many economic and developmental fields, including the petroleum industry, other energy sectors, scientific research, space, justice, health services, tax administration, mineral wealth, tourism, the aviation industry, cultural cooperation, and strengthening trade relations and other sectors.
The Kingdom supports efforts to reach a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis, has good relations with both sides of the crisis, and plays the role of mediator between them through the good relations that connect His Royal Highness the Crown Prince with the Russian and Ukrainian presidents.
The Kingdom adopted the initiative from the first days of the crisis in Ukraine, as His Royal Highness the Crown Prince had contact with the Russian and Ukrainian leaderships, in which His Royal Highness expressed the Kingdom’s readiness to carry out its efforts to contribute to reaching a political solution that leads to lasting peace. It also supported humanitarian initiatives aimed at alleviating the effects of the crisis, including the mediation of HRH the Crown Prince to release ten prisoners from several countries.
Out of the Kingdom’s belief that dialogue is the only way to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine and reach a consensus on the frameworks and mechanisms for this solution, and in continuation of the humanitarian initiatives and efforts made by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, the Kingdom hosted a meeting of national security advisors in a number of countries regarding the crisis in Ukraine.
International events confirmed the keenness of the leaderships of the two countries to strengthen the existing relations between them on the principle of respect for international laws and sovereignty, in addition to the congruence of bilateral views regarding many complex files at the regional and international levels, including the international economy file, as they are the two poles of the oil economy whose strategic partnership has contributed to the stability of oil prices, and creating a positive trend in the oil market.
The establishment of the Saudi-Russian Joint Committee and the Saudi-Russian Business Council contributed to developing relations between the two countries in various fields, diversifying and expanding the base of economic cooperation, and creating a commercial and investment platform capable of advancing trade exchange by taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the Kingdom Vision 2030 and major projects launched by the Kingdom.
The volume of trade exchange between the two countries in 2023 amounted to around SAR12,514,345,134. Saudi Non-oil exports amounted to SAR48,525,652 and included aluminium, plastics, varieties of ordinary metals, fruits, and organic chemical products. Non-oil imports amounted to SAR12,465,819,482, including metal products, grains, meat, iron, steel, animal fats and vegetable oils.
In confirmation of Saudi Arabia’s economic position, Russia supported the invitation of the Kingdom to join the BRICS bloc, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
President Putin said that the support comes in appreciation of the efforts of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince in supporting stability and balance in the oil markets and his ability to achieve the ambitious development plans of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom’s efforts also contributed to concluding the historic OPEC+ agreement, which supports the stability of oil markets, by adopting a methodology to align the production volume with the global demand for oil to serve both producers and consumers. This agreement has positively reflected the stability of global energy prices and enhanced the relations between Riyadh and Moscow.
The leaderships of the two countries agreed to stand against the scourge of terrorism and dry up its sources due to its danger to global security and the economy.
Cooperation between Saudi and Russian bodies has yielded positive results that benefited the Kingdom, as King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology announced in 2014 the successful launch of its thirteenth Saudi satellite, SaudiSat-4, from Russia’s Dombarovsky air base. The launch of SaudiSat-4 is of particular importance to the Kingdom, as it is the first of the new generation of Saudi satellites designed to be compatible with various space missions that meet the needs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, such as space imaging, data transfer and scientific space experiments.
The Saudi-Russian relations go beyond economic and political aspects, encompassing cultural, media and sports domains. The Russian interest in Arab culture became evident in the 17th century with the first translation of the meanings of the Holy Quran. The King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Quran published a modern Russian translation of the meanings of the Holy Quran in 1433 Hijri. This effort is part of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to making the Holy Quran and its teachings accessible to Muslims worldwide by publishing it in different languages.
The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) introduced a new news service in late 2015 highlighting the significance of Saudi-Russian relations. Through its official website, SPA began broadcasting Saudi news in Russian to keep the friendly Russian population informed about local and international events concerning the Kingdom. In 2016, SPA translated Saudi Vision 2030 into Russian, providing the Russian audience with access to the vision’s developmental dimensions. The vision outlines long-term economic plans to diversify the Saudi economy and reduce dependence on oil.
The Russian president’s current visit to the kingdom is a continuation of the efforts made by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince to engage with influential international parties to coordinate collective global action and halt military operations in Gaza. His Royal Highness the Crown Prince recently participated in the BRICS Extraordinary Joint Meeting on the Middle East situation in Gaza, during which he reviewed Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit decisions.
The significance of the Russian president’s visit lies in its timing after the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit, hosted by the Kingdom and chaired by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince on November 11, 2023.
The summit, driven by the wise Saudi leadership’s unwavering commitment to the Palestinian issue, strongly called for an immediate cessation of military operations in Gaza, the protection of civilians and the delivery of vital humanitarian aid to those affected.