The meeting comes amid Western pressure to try to get Russia to leave OPEC+

Russia and Saudi Arabia meet to stabilise energy alliance


Moscow and Riyadh are meeting with a single goal: to secure and stabilise the OPEC+ oil alliance, of which they are both members, in order to remain the main oil suppliers at a time when the United States is trying to influence Russia to leave the organisation.

The beginning of the Russian invasion transfigured all aspects at the diplomatic level. Boycotts and embargoes on Russian goods soon followed, including a gradual ban on Russian oil. Under pressure from the United States, the EU decreed a series of measures to try to reduce Russia's oil dependence, which is not easy because Moscow's supply is particularly high, especially in Eastern European countries. 


For this reason, the EU-27 tried to look for alternative countries that could successfully carry out full supply. Qatar is rising among these possible alternatives. On the other hand, the Gulf states remain the main option, especially for the United States.

Initially, as announced by EU members, the ban will include imports of oil that Russia exports only by ship. Following this measure, it is expected that oil transported through the various pipelines will be included at a later date.

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, together with French President Emmanuel Macron, confirmed that the bloc would discuss "as soon as possible" further extending the scope of the embargo to include oil exported by Russia through pipelines to EU member states. Similarly, they expect the EU to abandon 90% of Russian oil imports by the end of this year.


However, this decision poses a major risk for the EU, especially if OPEC+, led by Saudi Arabia, refuses to disassociate itself from Russia, which is still the case at the moment, and if there is a marginal increase in oil production, which could lead to higher prices.

A few hours after Brussels announced these new measures, the prices of Brent North Sea and West Texas Intermediate crude rose, respectively, to 124.10 dollars and 119.3 dollars a barrel, the highest prices recorded in the last two months.


In this context, the main purpose of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to Riyadh, as well as his meeting with the Gulf countries, is to continue to focus on the stabilisation of the oil alliance. Lavrov will meet with the Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar at the headquarters of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh, in the midst of the Russian invasion.

Despite Western pressure, the Gulf states have tried to remain neutral in this conflict. In statements issued by Oman's Foreign Minister Badr bin Hamad al-Busaidi, he said that "the crisis requires a European solution" and that a "with us or against us" stance will not work. 


In this regard, no change in the Gulf states' stance on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is expected, despite US attempts to change their attitude towards greater involvement or condemnation.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sought to anticipate Lavrov's visit to Riyadh after he made a phone call to his Saudi counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, in which he reiterated the importance of taking a stance on Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

This call also comes after two senior US officials, including Biden's top Middle East adviser Brett McGurk and State Department energy envoy Amos Hochstein, visited Saudi Arabia. During their visit they discussed Iran's nuclear programme and nuclear material development, as well as global energy supplies and other economic and social issues arising from the region. 


In this way, the US is trying to influence Saudi Arabia with two main objectives: to curb Russia's influence, especially in the important energy sector, and to convince the Gulf states to do without Moscow. Even so, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf countries do not seem to want to give in to Western pressure and continue on their path of keeping Russia as a member of OPEC+, despite the coercion.

Meanwhile, the thirteen members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, led by Saudi Arabia, will meet via video link in Vienna in a meeting that has been held almost monthly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this meeting, which Russia will attend, it is not yet clear what the main topics of discussion will be, but what is certain is that the boycott of Russian oil by the 27 will continue, even if the Union continues to have difficulties when it comes to dispensing with Russian oil altogether. 

Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.