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October 18, 2019 No.
8320

Russia This Week – Focus On The Middle East – October 18, 2019

Russia This Week is a weekly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest Russia-related news and analysis from media in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.

Photo Of The Week


Russian President Vladimir Putin with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. (Source: Kremlin.ru)

In The News:

  • Interview Of The Week: Putin: We Consider Saudi Arabia A Friendly Nation
  • Putin's State Visit To Saudi Arabia
  • Putin's State Visit To The United Arab Emirates
  • Russia In Syria

Interview Of The Week

Putin: We Consider Saudi Arabia A Friendly Nation

In advance of his visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Russian President Vladimir Putin answered questions from Al Arabiya senior presenter Mohammed Tomaihi, Sky News Arabia senior presenter Mohannad Khatib and RT Arabic Public and Political Programs Department Head Salam Musafir.

Below are excerpts  from the interview:


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

Putin: My Visit Will Help To Build Up The Momentum Both In Developing Bilateral Relations And Enhancing Cooperation In International Organizations

Mohammed Tomaihi: "Dear viewers, welcome to this unique interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which we are recording in Sochi… Thank you very much for this unique opportunity, considering your upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia."

Putin: "… As for the visit to Saudi Arabia, we attach great importance to it. It is, in a sense, a return visit after the visit by King of Saudi Arabia, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, to Russia. It was the first, historic visit. We consider it historic, and it really is.

"There is one more thing that I believe is important to note. In Soviet times, relations between Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union were at a rather low level. In recent years, the quality of our relations has changed dramatically. We consider Saudi Arabia a friendly nation.

"I have very good relations with both the King and the Crown Prince. We have been making good headway practically in all fields.

"I will start with the economy. There is still a lot to be done, but we have set a good pace… Our Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia have jointly established a $10 billion platform. $2 billion have already been invested… We also consider it possible to operate on the territory of Saudi Arabia. One of our companies is exploring the possibility of building a petrochemical facility with investments of more than $1 billion. It is SIBUR Holding, Russia's largest company in this sector.

"We are fostering a partnership in the trust-based, sensitive area of military and defense cooperation. We have been negotiating for a long time.

"Equally important are our joint efforts to resolve the regional crises. In this regard, I would like to emphasize the positive role Saudi Arabia has played in resolving the Syrian crisis. We are working especially closely with Turkey and Iran, as you all know. But I believe that without Saudi Arabia's contribution towards a Syrian settlement, it would have been impossible to achieve a positive trend. Therefore, I would like to express our gratitude to both the King and the Crown Prince for this constructive approach. I am confident that my visit will help to build up the momentum both in developing bilateral relations and enhancing cooperation in international organizations."

Putin: We See The United Arab Emirates As One Of Our Very Close And Promising Partners

Mohannad Khatib: "… Your visit to the Middle East will possibly have an impact on the United Arab Emirates as well. What do you think about strategic cooperation between Russia and the UAE, and how will this cooperation evolve? Can this cooperation play a certain role in strengthening collective security, considering the Russian initiative to establish a collective security architecture in the Gulf region, especially in the area of the Strait of Hormuz?"

Putin: "You have just mentioned the strategic nature of our cooperation. Indeed, we signed a strategic partnership memorandum last year, and we see the United Arab Emirates as one of our very close and promising partners. The signing of this document was not a coincidence, it demonstrated the quality and nature of relations between the United Arab Emirates and the Russian Federation.

"I have to say that, as is the case with Saudi Arabia, our partnership is vigorously developing in all areas. Of all the Gulf countries, we have the highest level of trade, $1.7 billion, but of course, this is not enough, we are well aware of that. So currently, we are working with the UAE's sovereign fund. The joint platform is worth approximately $7 billion. $2 billion have already been invested, work is underway on other projects. And of course, it is safe to say that the United Arab Emirates greatly contribute to resolving regional crises, and play a stabilizing role in the region.

It is no great secret that we maintain regular contacts with the leadership of the United Arab Emirates. There is even an established tradition, a practice to compare notes regarding different topics. In my opinion, we are doing it for the benefit of both parties, and the region as a whole."

Putin: Russia Will Never Be Friends With One Country Against Another

Mohammed Tomaihi: "Mr. President, you spoke earlier about the relations between Saudi Arabia and Russia. As you know, it is a strategic partner of the Russian Federation in terms of energy security. You must be aware of the two missile and bomb strikes on the oil refinery, and of the most recent developments.

"There has been talk in Saudi Arabia about Iran playing a destabilizing role in the region. You said that evidence had to be found to prove that Iran was really behind that. What is the official position of the Russian Federation regarding this incident?"

Putin: "Our official position is as follows: we condemn any such actions, end of story. This is the official position. We said this at the very beginning, and I have recently reiterated it at the Russian Energy Week forum in Moscow. There should be no room for doubt here. Such actions never yield any results for anyone, including those who plot and execute them. Why? If someone may have wanted to deal a blow to the oil market, they failed. There were indeed some fluctuations in prices, but I do not think it was anything too serious, even though the initial response was quite strong. The prices went back to normal in the very first week, because the fundamental factors that the market depends on will never allow the prices to either skyrocket or take a nosedive.

"Secondly, we – and I personally – maintain close contacts with the leadership of Saudi Arabia, including the Crown Prince. We discussed the incident, and I told him that I thought it necessary to collect evidence, to find the perpetrators behind that incident. Mohammed bin Salman agreed with me in principle, and asked me a question: 'Could Russia take part in the investigation?' I said yes, we are ready to share anything that might be necessary, everything we have for a thorough investigation. Our position remains unchanged. It is counter-productive to put the blame on someone before finding out exactly who was behind the incident."

Mohammed Tomaihi: "Mr. President, can Russia give any assurances that if it is revealed that Iran masterminded the attack, Russia will join other countries in condemning it?"

Putin: "I have just said it and I will repeat, regardless of who stood behind the incident, we condemn any such actions. That is exactly what I said before, and I really meant it. There is no other way to interpret this."

Mohannad Khatib: "Let us now put these attacks on the oil facilities aside. I think you are well aware of the tension that has mounted in the region, and you must have been analyzing this situation yourself. There is concern about Iran's role in not only these recent attacks, but also in what is happening in other countries – in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and some others.

"Do you think Russia has the same concerns about Iran's activities, which we think are having a destabilizing effect? Can Russia do anything to change Iran's behavior?"

Putin: "As I said, we have an unprecedented level of partnership, I would even say friendly relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. But Russia will never be friends with one country against another. We build bilateral relations that rely on positive trends generated by our contacts; we do not build alliances against anyone. This is my first point.

"Secondly, you and your audience understand, I believe, that Russia and Iran are neighbors; this is a factor we always bear in mind.

"Thirdly, Iran is a major regional power, an ancient country with a rich cultural legacy. If we want to build good relations with a country – and I believe every country in the region would want to have good relations with each other, no one seeks a standoff or, perish the thought, any conflict. No one does. I know that there is no one looking for a showdown and that is true for both Saudi Arabia and the UAE. If we want to set a positive agenda, we need to acknowledge that our partners have their own legitimate interests. I am not weighing in on what is legitimate and what is not. I just want to underscore that it is only natural that a big country like Iran, which has existed on its territory for thousands of years has its own interests. Persians and Iranians have lived here for centuries. And we should respect those interests.

"Of course, it is debatable what is legitimate and what is not, which interests are legitimate and which cross the line. However, you need to have dialogue to understand each other, to puzzle out all the nuances, intricacies and issues. Without dialogue, you cannot solve any problem. That is why I think I can share the concerns of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, but in the case of bilateral issues, it is up to them to resolve them.

"As for Russia, we will do everything in our power to create the right conditions for positive change. Russia has cordial relations with Iran and is on very good terms with our Arab friends. Back in the Soviet times, we did not have any particularly deep relations with Saudi Arabia, but we were truly close with almost all the Arab countries. The Soviet Union was on very good terms with the entire Arab world. Today we are back to the same level of partnership. Therefore, if we put to good use the cordial relations that we have with Iran, the Arab world, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, I think we can come up with something that would be of interest to everyone.

"Previously, I mentioned the positive role that we play in Syria. It is true that we – Turkey, Iran, and Russia – work hard, shoulder to shoulder, to achieve positive results. However, it would have been impossible without support from Saudi Arabia, and we all understand that. And, of course, without assistance from the UAE as well. It means that, despite acute contradictions, there is still something that brings us together towards a common goal. You just need to find such a goal and then apply concerted efforts to reach it. That can create the right setting for the normalization of relations between the countries in the region."

Putin: Neither Producers Nor Consumers Want High Oil Prices; We Need To Respond To Any Attempt To Destabilize The Market

Salam Musafir: "I would like to ask you a question on the matter, namely security in the Gulf region. It has truly seen a lot of developments recently. There have been many dramatic incidents: detention of tankers, a missile and bomb attack on the Saudi Aramco refinery, and the aggression that continues around Yemen. The recent attacks on Saudi Aramco's oil facilities strongly affected sentiment in the region, as we can see.

"In your view, what will be the impact of all these high-profile incidents on cooperation under the OPEC+ agreement? So far, regional powers have not made any specific statements regarding Russia's proposal for a collective security strategy in the region.

"How do you plan to promote that collective security initiative? Do you think it will ever see the light of day?"

Putin: "Your questions seem to be linked, but still deal with separate issues. Our cooperation within OPEC+ is one thing, while regional security and stability and our proposals is a different one.

"First, if anyone thinks that seizing tankers and attacking oil infrastructure can in any way affect cooperation between Russia and our Arab friends, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, that they can undermine or break down our cooperation with OPEC+, then they are profoundly wrong. On the contrary, we will forge ever closer ties because our main goal is to stabilize global energy markets. Technically, we need to cut global reserves to some sensible level, so that these reserves do not affect prices.

"We have made some good strides and whatever we have managed to achieve has served not only oil producers, but also consumers. Neither producers nor consumers want high prices, rather we all want stability in the global market. Let me be straight with you, all that has been done under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Overall, those were his initiatives, and we just backed them. Now we see that we did the right thing.

"We need to respond to any attempt to destabilize the market. Russia will certainly continue working with Saudi Arabia and other partners and friends in the Arab world to counter any attempts to wreak havoc in the market.

"Now let us turn to Russia's initiative to stabilize the situation in the Gulf region. We put that initiative forward some time ago. We proposed to establish some sort of an organization that would bring together the countries of the region as well as several other stakeholders, the US and the EU, to name just a few. This organization would serve as a platform to discuss crises and all kinds of pressing problems. Some have already voiced their support; others say it is too early to launch such an initiative. And the reason for that, by the way, is the serious contradictions between regional powers. From my point of view, these deep contradictions call for such a platform, so that countries could at least sit at the negotiating table. As you may be aware, sometimes it is not the negotiations that matter, but a handshake. A handshake can mean a lot."

Putin: The Role Of Mediator Is Not A Rewarding One

Salam Musafir: "A follow-up question, if I may. Can we rely on Russia's efforts as a mediator between the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia, or on a larger scale in order to help relieve the tension in the Gulf region?"

Putin: "The role of mediator is not a rewarding one. I believe that our partners in Iran and Saudi Arabia do not need any mediation.

"Since we maintain very friendly relations with all the countries in the region, including Iran and the Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, we could certainly help relay some messages between the parties, so they could hear each other's position. But since I personally know the leaders of these countries, I am perfectly sure that they have no need for any advice or mediation. What you can do is maintain a friendly conversation with them and present some ideas from a friend's perspective. I am convinced that as highly intelligent people they listen and analyze everything they hear. From this point of view, yes, we could play a positive role in the process, to some extent."

Putin: Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Salman Has Been Behind Many Of The Russian-Saudi Initiatives; Saudi Arabia Can Be Safely Called A Global Player Since It Has An Impact On The World Energy Market

Mohammed Tomaihi: "Mr. President, we are running out of time. We do not want to steal time from our colleagues.

"You have made fairly positive comments about Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman. You seem to have close and good ties with him. Do you count on the positive role that he can play in fostering the Russian-Saudi relationship and in the Middle East agenda in general?"

Putin: "That is exactly his role today, and he has been quite successful. Indeed, we have very good personal ties. He has been behind many of our initiatives, and these projects are being put into practice. As I said, he came up with OPEC+, he endorsed the joint platforms of our investment funds. Two billion worth of investment has been made by now. He raised the need for broader defense cooperation, and we have a good plan of joint activities in that area. This is already happening. Hopefully, our collaboration will continue to expand going forward.

"As for Saudi Arabia's role in the region, it is definitely one of the key countries there. It does have an impact based on its capabilities and its position in the energy market. Saudi Arabia can be safely called a global player since it has an impact on the world energy market, on world energy in general.

"This is why cooperation with Saudi Arabia, its King and Crown Prince bin Salman is very important, and we will develop our relations going forward."

(Kremlin.ru; October 13, 2019)

Putin's State Visit To Saudi Arabia


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

Riyadh has hosted talks between the President of Russia and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. The talks focused, among other things, on coordinating measures to stabilize oil prices, as well as the situation in Syria and the Persian Gulf region, and the Palestinian-Israeli settlement.

In addition, the leaders discussed building up their multi-dimensional cooperation in various areas, such as energy, agriculture, industry and military-technical cooperation, as well as cultural and humanitarian exchanges.

The parties had a detailed exchange of views on current international issues, with an emphasis on the developments in the Middle East and North Africa.

Following the visit, a package of bilateral documents was signed, including both interagency and commercial agreements. The sides signed the Charter of Cooperation of Oil Producing Countries and the program for high level Russian-Saudi strategic cooperation of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation. Other documents concern cooperation in manned cosmonautics and the GLONASS global navigation satellite system, energy, culture, healthcare, mass communications, tourism, mutual visa facilitation agreements, encouragement and protection of capital investment and mutual expansion of agricultural and food exports. A number of documents regulate specific issues of joint investment and joint projects.

(Source: Kremlin.ru, October 14, 2019)


Putin presented a Kamchatka gyrfalcon to King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. (Source: Kremlin.ru)


The King of Saudi Arabia gave the President of Russia a painting with a traditional Arab ornament as a present. (Source: Kremlin.ru)


Putin presented an artifact made of mammoth tusk to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud. (Source:Kremlin.ru)


The head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov attended the signing ceremony of the Russian-Saudi documents. (Source: Kremlin.ru)

Putin: Russia Attaches Particular Importance To Expanding Friendly And Mutually Beneficial Ties With Saudi Arabia; We See Russian-Saudi Coordination As An Indispensable Element For Ensuring Security In The Middle East And North Africa

Putin: "Your Majesty, I am pleased to be in the hospitable nation of Saudi Arabia again. I remember my visit to your country in 2007. Back then, I had the pleasure of seeing you and talking with you. You spent much time with our delegation, and we talked a lot.

"Russia attaches particular importance to expanding friendly and mutually beneficial ties with Saudi Arabia. Bilateral relations were established over 90 years ago in 1926, the dawn of the state of Saudi Arabia. The Soviet Union was the first foreign country to recognize the young Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd led by your father.

"Your Majesty, we appreciate your personal contribution to promoting multifaceted Russia-Saudi Arabia cooperation. Your first ever visit to Russia in October 2017 was quite effective. The agreements reached back then are being successfully implemented.

"Trade and economic cooperation is getting stronger. Last year, trade grew by 15 percent to over $1 billion, adding another 38 percent in January-July. The intergovernmental commission is working effectively, and its most recent meeting was held in Moscow in June.

"Your Majesty, the Russian-Saudi Economic Council, which you just mentioned, has been effectively created and its members include representatives of major businesses of our respective countries. Today, we plan to take part in the council's first meeting.

"During the talks, we will review the key aspects of our cooperation, outline plans for the future and, of course, exchange opinions on international matters.

"Saudi Arabia will chair the G20 next year and will play an important role in addressing key issues on the global economic agenda.

"I had a very productive discussion with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at a summit in Osaka, Japan, in June. We agreed, in particular, to extend the OPEC+ agreements in order to stabilize the global oil market.

"We see Russian-Saudi coordination as an indispensable element for ensuring security in the Middle East and North Africa.

"I am convinced that without your country, it is hardly possible to achieve a just and long-term settlement of any problem in this region.

"I hope that this visit will give an additional boost to our cooperation across all areas. We have drafted an extensive package of joint documents to be signed during this visit and acted upon later."

(Kremlin.ru, October 14, 2019)


Putin during Russian-Saudi talks. With Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russia and Yury Ushakov, Aide to the President. (Source: Kremlin.ru)

Putin: We Attach Much Importance To Russian-Saudi Coordination In The World Energy Market; Your Highness, All Our Cooperation Is Aimed At Promoting Peace And Security In The Region And Stabilizing The World Energy Industry

Vladimir Putin met with Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud in his palace complex. They discussed, in part, bilateral cooperation in the world energy market.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: "Your Highness, I am very happy to see you again, this time in Saudi Arabia.

As you have seen, we have already started a detailed discussion of the entire range of issues pertaining to our relations. The Saudi King and I reviewed this in detail during the talks and reception.

"Your Highness, we appreciate your personal efforts to strengthen the entire range of Russian-Saudi cooperation, including the trade, economic and investment areas.

"As I have already said, our trade is growing. With your support, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) has allocated $10 billion for joint projects with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). The mechanism of automatic co-investment is also functioning well. We have reached agreements on new initiatives involving Saudi investment.

"Our countries work together to resolve major international and regional problems. We cooperate in the United Nations and the G20, where Saudi Arabia will assume the presidency next year, and through strategic dialogue between Russia and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.

"We both support efforts to counter the terrorist threat and achieve long-term political and diplomatic settlement of crises in the Middle East and North Africa.

"We attach much importance to Russian-Saudi coordination in the world energy market. Owing to the active participation of our countries, we managed to extend agreements in the OPEC+ format on reducing oil production.

"Your Highness, all our cooperation is aimed at promoting peace and security in the region and stabilizing the world energy industry. All this is producing good, positive results.

"I would like to thank you once again for your efforts to carry out these joint plans."

(Source: Kremlin.ru, October 14, 2019)

Russian FM Lavrov: The Visit Is Historic In The Sense That It Is Taking Place For The First Time During Putin's Second Term And Reflects A Qualitatively New Level Of Our Relations

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's answer to a question from Channel One following Russian President

Vladimir Putin's state visit to Saudi Arabia, on October 14, 2019.

Question: "Ahead of the visit, it was called historic. Did it justify the description?"

Sergey Lavrov: "The visit is historic in the sense that it is taking place for the first time during President Putin's second term and reflects a qualitatively new level of our relations compared with his visit in 2007 and even compared with last year's visit to the Russian Federation by His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.

"During today's talks with the King and the Crown Prince, we stated that our relations were developing progressively in all areas, including trade, the economy, investment (I want to highlight this area), the military-technical sphere and in the area of foreign policy coordination…"

(Mid.ru, October 15, 2019)

Putin's State Visit To The United Arab Emirates

Putin with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. (Source: Kremlin.ru)


(Source: Kremlin.ru)

In Qasr Al Watan Palace in Abu Dhabi, Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

An official meeting ceremony between the President of Russia and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi preceded the international consultations. A package of documents was signed following the talks.

(Kremlin.ru, October 15, 2019)


Putin has gifted UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a gyrfalcon. (Source: Kremlin.ru)


Putin receives a model of the Qasr Al Hosn Palace, former residence of the UAE President, as a gift from Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.(Source: Kremlin.ru)


Putin briefly talks with the team of UAE astronauts. (Source: Kremlin.ru)

Putin: Relations Between Russia And The United Arab Emirates Continue To Develop Successfully In A Friendly And Constructive Manner

Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (retranslated): "First, I would like to welcome His Excellency Mr President of the Russian Federation. It is a heartfelt welcome to the second country you are visiting – the United Arab Emirates. I would like to extend warm brotherly greetings from President of the United Arab Emirates His Highness Sheikh Al Nahyan.

"We very much appreciate the high- and top-level visits that our countries have exchanged in recent years. I would like to emphasize the importance and the scope of strategic relations between the United Arab Emirates and the Russian Federation and also to reaffirm that our country prioritizes the efforts to promote a dialogue and relations with Russia. Our countries maintain friendly relations, as well as diverse cooperation in all areas, which has yielded tangible fruit and includes positive economic indicators.

"Dear brother and friend, I am happy to meet with you after more than a year since our last meeting in Moscow. I consider Russia to be my second home and I would like to once again thank you for the warm reception.

"I would also like to express my gratitude to you for your commitment to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation that we are tied together by – a friendship that exists between the peoples of the two countries and the governments of the two countries, as well as the personal friendship between the leaders of the two countries.

"The United Arab Emirates is honored that you are visiting this country and it is a historical visit. We would also like to reaffirm that our two countries are tied together by deep strategic relations. The United Arab Emirates sees brotherly, friendly and strategic relations with Russia as a priority.

"Mr President, we welcome and appreciate our mutual desire to bring bilateral relations to the strategic partnership level. This agrees with our common vision and our common concept and, in keeping with this vision, we are poised to further strengthen this strategic partnership in the interests of our countries and peoples.

"Mr President, I would like to praise the outcome of the 9th Russian-UAE Intergovernmental Commission Meeting, which was held ahead of your visit. I would also like to thank the Russian Government for its successful efforts to hold the third edition of Aqdar World Summit in September 2019.

"Also, Mr President, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for your support for the project that the United Arab Emirates sees as a historical one – the space expedition, in which the first cosmonaut from the United Arab Emirates, Hazza Al Mansouri, took part. Sending the first ever cosmonaut from the United Arab Emirates to the International Space Station is a historical achievement that had long been a dream of the founder of our country Sheikh Zayed and it has come true.

"Mr President, dear friend and brother, I would like to yet again welcome you and the high-level delegation that is accompanying you. Hopefully, this visit will leave a deep impression and will be a qualitative breakthrough in developing our strategic partnership and taking it to a new level. I am also looking forward to meeting you again before too long."

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: "Your Highness, friends,

"First of all, I would like to thank you for this invitation. I am really delighted to be once again in the hospitable land of the United Arab Emirates. I could see from the window of the car I was being driven in for the short journey from the airport how quickly your country is developing and how it is looking better and better.

"Relations between Russia and the United Arab Emirates continue to develop successfully in a friendly and constructive manner in accordance with the Declaration on Strategic Partnership signed in Moscow back in 2018. We are expanding ties in the trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian fields and we are maintaining close coordination on major global and regional affairs, primarily regarding Syria, Libya, Yemen and the situation in the Gulf.

"Our political dialogue is regular and substantial. Our foreign ministers are in close contact. We have developed cooperation between our security councils, special services and defense ministries. I would like to ask you to convey my best regards and to wish good health to the President of your country, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

"We continue developing trade, economic and investment cooperation. Last year our trade amounted to $1.7 billion, having increased by 3.6 percent.

"We are grateful for your personal support of the partnership between the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Mubadala Investment Company that are jointly investing in the Russian economy. These investments have already reached $2.3 billion. Your Russian partners are not letting you down: profits from these investments are much higher than on the markets of other countries.

"We continue investing and cooperating in start-ups, in the energy sector and in the peaceful nuclear development. We continue coordinating our efforts and policy on the global hydrocarbon market, in part, owing to the OPEC plus agreement.

"We are now working together in the car industry. Our cooperation in space exploration has reached a new level. I would like to congratulate you once again on the successful flight of the first astronaut from the UAE to the International Space Station. This event became possible owing to our friendship and your efforts to promote this idea. We are ready to continue rendering the necessary assistance to the United Arab Emirates in space exploration, including in such fields as satellite navigation and launching space vehicles into space.

"We are developing humanitarian ties. The UAE is a popular destination for Russian tourists. Last year the tourist flow increased by 23 percent. According to the Central Bank of Russia, our tourists spent over $1.3 billion in the Emirates, which is comparable with the scale of our trade. Mutual exemption of visa requirements is designed to expand contacts between our citizens. This intergovernmental agreement was signed at your initiative and entered into force last February. We will continue moving in this direction.

"Thank you."

(Source: Kremlin.ru, October 15, 2019)


(Source: Kremlin.ru)


Putin with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan before departing for the airport. (Source: Kremlin.ru)

Russia In Syria

Commenting on the situation in Northern Syria, Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev wrote in his Facebook account: "As anticipated, the Turkish military incursion into Northern Syria has complicated the situation in the region and led to certain consequences. One consequence is that it motivated a renewed dialogue between the Kurds and Damascus, something that the Kurds had previously avoided since they were betting on external (American) support. Currently, Kurdish militant groups reached an understanding with Damascus concerning the deployment of governmental forces along the Turkish border with Syria, with the aim of stopping the Turkish offensive.

"That said, the risk of a direct and open Turkish-Syrian confrontation is not high, since Ankara, apparently, does not want to grab Syrian territories by force. Erdogan's aims are [more] prosaic: there are more than 3.5 million refugees piled up in Turkish territory along the border and Ankara is planning to relocate at least one million refugees into the areas where it is presently waging its military operation.

"The problem is that by trying to solve its problems militarily, Turkey is creating a new problem and is exacerbating the old ones. According to Save the Children, more than million and a half civilians require humanitarian assistance in the border area. According to various estimates, the military operation may immediately lead to the relocation of 300 hundred thousand people at a minimum.

"That's why Russia is constantly working for activating the dialogue: first – between the Kurds and the Syrian government (which is already being promoted), second – between Ankara and Damascus.

"No matter what the Turkish reasons are – the fact is that Ankara invaded a neighboring country, while this was not helping in any way to achieve a mutual goal: fighting terrorism. I'm confident that the time for active diplomacy has arrived- we are ready to support attempts to find the much needed decisions through inter-parliamentarian communications.

"One last thing: I notice that there is an attempt to radicalize the discussion on the situation within the framework of Inter-parliamentarian alliance. I think that any kind of condemnation is not helpful. Whoever wants to support Syrian sovereignty has to normalize relations with its legitimate government!"

(Facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002123135703, October 14, 2019)

Russian Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov, the deputy head of the Federation Council Foreign Affairs committee, said: "Russia, for sure, won't be dragged into it. It's not our conflict. Russian forces are deployed to Syria with a different goal – facilitating Syria's liberation from international terrorism."

(Ria.ru, October 9, 2019)

Russian expert Fyodor Lukyanov said: "Relations with Turkey are at the moment much more important. It is not necessary to get involved in the Kurdish question. We should by all means help the Kurds arrive at the position that the only way to guarantee their own long-term security is to reach an agreement with Damascus. For example: the Kurds recognize Damascus' jurisdiction (Moscow stands behind Damascus), while Damascus obligates itself to protect Kurdish regions from a Turkish incursion”, said Lukyanov.

(Vz.ru, October 9, 2019)

Read More:

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