A high-level Russian delegation, including Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin and representatives of the Defense Ministry, arrived in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on April 19 and held a meeting with the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia said in an official statement that the delegation and Bin Salman discussed several issues during the meeting, mainly the situation in war-torn Syria.
“Special attention was paid to ensuring a long-term political settlement in Syria based on the U.N. Security Council resolution 2254 and providing necessary aid to help rebuild the country after the conflict,” the ministry’s statement reads.
Under the rule of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Saudi Arabia strengthened its relations with Russia and adopted a more moderate stand on the ongoing conflict in Syria. The oil-rich kingdom reportedly suspended its support for Syrian militants few years ago.
Despite this development, Saudi Arabia is still anxious to restore its relations with Damascus, unlike its key regional ally, the UAE, who did so in late 2018. Local observers believe that pressure from the U.S. is preventing the Kingdom from taking additional positive steps on Syria.
Meanwhile, Russia probably believes that Saudi Arabia could be a part of a long-awaited political solution in Syria. The kingdom’s vast wealth and its relations with Arab tribes in Syria could help to reconstruct the country, materially and socially.