First Published: 2007-02-11

 
Putin blasts US global dominance
 

Russian President heads to Saudi Arabia after accusing US of making world more dangerous place.

 

Middle East Online

By Lydia Georgi - RIYADH

A scathing attack on US foreign policy



Russian President Vladimir Putin kicks off a Middle East tour on Sunday seeking to enhance ties with regional US allies after launching a scathing attack on Washington's "ruinous" foreign policy.

On the first leg of the trip in Saudi Arabia, the leaders of the world's two largest oil producers will get together to discuss regional problems and bilateral links, including possible arms sales.

Putin will then head to Qatar and Jordan on the three-day tour aimed at bolstering energy and military links in a region where US influence has been uncontested since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The visits will be the first by a Russian president to the three Arab states and follow Putin's landmark Middle East visit in 2005, when he travelled to Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian territories.

On the eve of his tour, Putin attacked the United States as a reckless "unipolar" power, accusing Washington of having made the world more dangerous by pursuing policies that have led to war, ruin and insecurity.

"The United States has overstepped its borders in all spheres - economic, political and humanitarian and has imposed itself on other states," he said at a conference on security policy in Munich.

The United States had gone "from one conflict to another without achieving a fully-fledged solution to any of them," he said, describing US dominance as "ruinous".

The speech has added to tensions between the Kremlin and Washington, which have heightened after a period of relative rapprochement in the 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Addressing the same conference on Sunday, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates dismissed Putin's broadside, declaring: "One Cold War was quite enough."

The Russian leader's discussions with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah will cover issues on which Moscow is at odds with the United States, including the situation in war-torn Iraq and the standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Decades of Saudi suspicion about Russian intentions in the Middle East have given way to warming relations, and Putin has been trying to restore Moscow's international clout, boosted by his country's oil wealth.

A diplomatic source said the visit is expected to lead to a "verbal understanding" on the sale of about 150 Russian T-90 battle tanks to Saudi Arabia, which has traditionally bought Western weapons but is seeking to diversify its defence systems.

Discussions on the proposed deal will continue after the visit between military experts from the two countries, which have been in talks about the supply of the battle tanks for several months, the source said.

Tests were carried out on the T-90 in Saudi Arabia last year to determine the tank's suitability for harsh desert conditions, and Russia has also offered Mi-17 helicopters.

Putin, whose delegation will include officials from the state arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport, is scheduled to hold a meeting on Monday with Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, who is also defence minister, officials said.

In addition to a counter-terrorism agreement, cooperation accords in the economic, investment, cultural and information fields are expected to be signed, including an agreement to prevent double taxation.

Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko will also accompany Putin. Moscow and Riyadh signed a cooperation agreement aimed at stabilizing oil prices when King Abdullah, then crown prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, paid a landmark visit to Russia in September 2003.

In March 2004, Saudi Arabia inked a contract with Russian energy giant Lukoil for exploration and production of non-associated gas in its southern desert region of Rub al-Khali, or Empty Quarter.

Putin will spend Sunday and early Monday in Saudi Arabia before travelling to neighbouring Qatar, which holds the third-largest natural gas reserves in the world after Russia and Iran.

On Tuesday, he goes to Amman where he is due to hold talks with King Abdullah II and also Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

 

Iraq PM arrives in Saudi to upgrade ties

UN ends Libya talks with no progress made

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

Ancient Turkish town set to vanish forever under floodwaters

More than half of Austrians vote for anti-immigration party

Washington sees potential Hezbollah threat in the US

Cairo killing sparks security concerns among Copts

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike

Yemen rebel youth minister urges children to join war

Iran's Guards show no intention of curbing activities in Mideast

EU will cut some money for Turkey as ties sour

Iraqi workers return to oil fields retaken from Kurds

Kurdish disarray shows resurgence of Iraq's army

Iranian military chief visits frontline near Syria's Aleppo

Iraq army takes last Kurd-held area of Kirkuk province

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk

Syrian general accused of journalist deaths killed in Deir Ezzor

Raqa liberators ready for civilian handover, on to next battle

Revolutionary Guards say Iranian missile program will continue

Erdogan calls on three major mayors to resign

ICC investigating several war crimes in Mali