Saudi Arabia yet to respond to Russia air defence system offer 

Saudi Arabia has not responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal for Riyadh to purchase one of the S-300 or S-400 air defence systems, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said yesterday.

Asked what Saudi’s response was to the offer, the spokesperson said: “There wasn’t any.” He also noted that “the two sides intend to work to extend cooperation in different areas,” Tass reported.

He pointed out that the Kremlin has no information about the attacks on the oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

On Monday, at a press conference following his meeting with Iranian and Turkish leaders in Ankara, Putin offered to help Saudi Arabia protect its people and oil infrastructure by selling the kingdom Russian air defence systems, saying: “These kinds of systems are capable of defending any kind of infrastructure in Saudi Arabia from any kind of attack.”

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The meeting came after US officials said that Iran is likely responsible for the attacks which hit two oil facilities in Saudi on Saturday. Tehran denied the claims.

Saudi Arabia has “a great deal of explaining to do” on how its oil assets were attacked, one former US diplomat said. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute the country spent an estimated $67.6 billion on arms in 2018, the highest such spending as a proportion of GDP.

“I think the Saudi leadership has a great deal of explaining to do that a country that ranks third in terms of total defense spending … was not able to defend its most critical, and I can’t underscore that enough, its most critical oil facility from these kinds of attacks,” said Gary Grappo, former US ambassador to Oman who also held senior positions at the US embassies across the Middle East including Riyadh.

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