Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, where he was set to seal oil agreements and try to use his influence to defuse tensions boiling in the Gulf.
His meetings with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman come following attacks on Saudi oil installations that Riyadh and Washington have blamed on Moscow ally Tehran.
Oil will be “the main topic of discussion” between the leaders, Russian political analyst Fydor Lukyanov said, as a deal between the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Moscow is due to expire next spring.
Moscow is not a member of OPEC, but it has worked closely with the group to limit supply and push up prices after a 2014 slump that wreaked havoc on the economies of Russia and cartel heavyweight Saudi Arabia.
Moscow and Riyadh — a traditional ally of Washington — have made a striking rapprochement in recent years, marked in particular by King Salman's first visit to Russia in October 2017.
A year later, when the Saudi crown prince, known as MBS, was under fire over the assassination of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Putin went out of his way to shake his hand at a G20 summit, to much comment.
In an interview with Arabic-language television channels ahead of his visit, Putin praised his good relations with the Saudi royals.
“We will absolutely work with Saudi Arabia and our other partners and friends in the Arab world ... to reduce to zero any attempt to destabilise the oil market,” he said in the interview broadcast on Sunday.