S-400 in Saudi Arabia? Is that why the US withdrew the Patriots?

RIYADH, ($1=3.75 Saudi Arabian Riyal) – There is persistent talk of a contract between Saudi Arabia and Russia for the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, citing several Arab media, including DefenseArabia.com.

According to the publication, Riyadh and Moscow reached an agreement in 2017 during the bilateral meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

“One of the main goals of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the purchase of S-400 complexes from Russia. During King Salman’s visit to Moscow in 2017 and Putin’s later visit to Riyadh, agreements were reached on the purchase of weapons, defense, and military services. It is noteworthy that the Deputy Minister of Defense of Saudi Arabia Khalid bin Salman made a trip at the end of last month, led by a high-level military delegation to Russia and discussed ways of bilateral cooperation in the military and defense spheres,” said a report in DefenseArabia.

Arab analysts say that the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Russia is the reason why the United States is withdrawing its air defense systems from the kingdom. The Walt Street Journal said a telephone conversation took place between US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In this conversation, the United States informed the royal family about the upcoming changes, which include the reduction of the US Air Force in the country. The same publication claims that in 2017, in addition to an agreement to purchase the S-400, the Saudis agreed to purchase Su-35 fighters.

We remind you that only a few days ago we reported that another country in the Middle East was interested in Russian weapons and that it was the United Arab Emirates. According to available information, Abu Dhabi and Moscow are working together to develop the Su-75 Checkmate stealth fighter, which was introduced in the middle of this year.

The information surprised the general international community, but it is not new, on the contrary – it was announced in 2017, but no one paid attention.

If we go back four years, in 2017 at the international exhibition IDEX 2017 we will notice that then the Russian Federation and the United Arab Emirates came out with a message that the two countries are starting work on a project for a fifth-generation stealth fighter, which should be ready in 2025. Too many matches, don’t you think?

Saudi Arabia’s interest in Russian air defense systems is not from today, but the last two years. It intensified especially after the Saudis suffered devastating attacks with rockets and drones from the Yemeni Houthis in September 2019, when the Aramco oil refinery was also damaged.

Even then, the American Patriot air defense systems were severely criticized, not only by the Saudi public but also by those in the region. The same thing happened again in September this year, when the Yemeni Houthis launched another airstrike on Saudi buildings and Patriot missed at least 50% of the missiles and drones fired.

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