As OPEC watches nervously, Russia and Saudi Arabia create a new axis – of oil
Russia is trying to be friends with everyone at once, and wielding growing influence as a global giant in weaponry and oil production. Some of its success could be at the US’s expense.
The relationship between Russia and Saudi Arabia is a clear sign of changes in the wind. Russia is forging fresh ties with countries it never had particularly friendly relations with before – including Israel, Iran, Qatar, and Turkey. The relative success of Russia’s military intervention in Syria has made it an indispensable player in shaping a future peace settlement, and it’s part of the reason Middle Eastern leaders have been beating a path to Moscow. This week Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to increase oil production, and their collaboration suggests that the two oil-producing giants may be eclipsing OPEC. Uncertainties about the US’s reliability as a partner are clear factors in some countries seeking to diversify their foreign ties. Saudi Arabia is one of several traditionally US clients that are currently negotiating to buy Russian weaponry, but any warning of sanctions from the United States to those clients could backfire. “Some [countries] may decide they need to assert their sovereignty,” says Sergei Strokan, a columnist with a Moscow business daily, “as well as lessen their dependence on the US, and that can work in Russia’s favor.”