Saudi Arabia has secretly offered Russia an important arms deal and a pledge not to challenge Russian gas sales if the Kremlin agrees to diminish support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The transcripts of the private meeting of the two politicians were first leaked to the Russian news agencies. A detailed version has been published by the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir.
Some reports even suggested that the Saudi representative even offered Putin to buy up to USD 15 billion of Russian weapons.
The chief of Saudi intelligence, reportedly confronted Moscow with a mix of inducements and threats in attempt to break the deadlock over Syria.
“Let us examine how to put together a unified Russian-Saudi strategy on the subject of oil. The aim is to agree on the price of oil and production quantities that keep the price stable in global oil markets,” he said at the private talks with Putin.
“We understand Russia’s great interest in the oil and gas in the Mediterranean from Israel to Cyprus. And we understand the importance of the Russian gas pipeline to Europe. We are not interested in competing with that. We can cooperate in this area,” he continued, purporting to speak with the full backing of the US.
The strategic jitters pushed Brent crude prices to a five-month high of $112 a barrel, reports The Telegraph.
“We are only one incident away from a serious oil spike. The market is a lot tighter than people think,” said Chris Skrebowski, editor of Petroleum Review.
According to the leaked transcripts, Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria on the condition that the reqime is not supported by the Kremlin and even promised protection of Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” he allegedly said.
The chief went on, adding that terrorist groups operating in Syria were just a pressure tool that could be easily managed.
“These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role in Syria’s political future,” Prince said.
However, the Russian president kept mum on the secret offer, though western pressure has escalated since the three-week negotiations.
“Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters,” he said, speaking of the footage showing a Jihadist rebel eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier.
Prince Bandar warned that there can be “no escape from the military option” if Russia declines the olive branch. Events are unfolding exactly as he foretold.
The news comes the same time military leaders from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Canada are gathering in Jordan to discuss Syria unrest.