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Saudis sign military cooperation agreement with Russia

Opening ceremony of the Army 2021 International Military Technical Forum and the International Army Games (Official Internet Resources of the President of Russia/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Saudi Arabia and Russia have signed a military cooperation agreement at an arms expo outside Moscow.

Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman announced on Twitter on August 24 that he signed the agreement with Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin “aimed at developing joint military cooperation between the two countries.”

Salman also met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during his visit outside Moscow to the arms expo International Military-Technical Forum Army-2021.

The deputy defense minister said the meeting explored ways to “strengthen military and defense cooperation between our two countries.”

There were no immediate details of the military agreement between Saudi Arabia, the world’s top arms importer, and Russia, the second largest weapons exporter after the United States.

The United States has traditionally been the top arms supplier to Saudi Arabia. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Saudi Arabia was the main recipient of U.S. arms transfers in 2016–20, accounting for 24 percent of U.S. arms exports.

“We aim for a progressive development of cooperation in military and military-technical fields on the entire spectrum of issues that pose mutual interest,” Shoigu said during the meeting with Salman.

He noted that Russia had many new weapons systems that have “proven themselves well in Syria,” where Russia’s military intervened to support President Bashar al-Assad in that country’s civil war.