Kremlin Says Saudi Talks on S-400 Missile Systems on Track

Kremlin Says Saudi Talks on S-400 Missile Systems on Track
Kremlin Says Saudi Talks on S-400 Missile Systems on Track

The Kremlin said on Monday that talks with Saudi Arabia over Moscow supplying Riyadh with advanced S-400 air defense missile systems had gone well from Russia’s point of view so far.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, on a conference call with reporters, was responding to a question about whether a decision by the US State Department to approve the possible sale of a THAAD anti-missile defense system, worth $15b, to Saudi Arabia might affect the Russian deal, Reuters reported.

Peskov said the Kremlin could only offer its own assessment of how talks were progressing, but said preliminary negotiations on the deal had gone well.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Saudi Arabia’s King Salman for talks at the Kremlin last week, cementing a relationship that is pivotal for world oil prices and could decide the outcome of the conflict in Syria.

When asked about fears that Saudi Arabia could use the S-400 system against Iran, Peskov said Russia’s decision to offer the missiles to Riyadh was not aimed at any third party.

According to Moscow Times, Russia is the world’s second largest weapons exporter with total sales exceeding $15 billion annually.

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin Saudi Arabia’s chief executive, Alan Chinoda, said that the arms deal brokered during the US President Donald Trump’s visit last May to the oil-kingdom encompasses the settings of a Saudi-US partnership and encourages the exchange of intelligence.

Chinoda said that the kingdom’s next approach is based on the efforts of localization, which seeks to cover 50 percent of the country’s defense investments by 2030.

He described the move as ‘intelligent,’ saying that the Saudi leadership approach is positive in terms of developing a more mature defense industry, with specialized and highly skilled jobs.

One of the key elements of the May 20 deal is to localize products and develop skills. Companies looking to work in Saudi Arabia are encouraged to incorporate knowledge transfer into their operations.

Commenting on the US-Saudi arms deal pledging to assemble 150 Lockheed Martin Blackhawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia, Chinoda said that the group was working to deliver on that deal.

Initially, parts of the helicopters will be transferred mostly from the United States and delivered to Saudi military forces, while the final assembly will take place within the joint venture in Saudi Arabia.

The $6 billion deal for Blackhawks is expected to result in about 450 jobs in Saudi Arabia, he said.


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