High-level cooperation between a pair of Cold War adversaries—Saudi Arabia and Russia—became a hallmark of the enlarged OPEC+ grouping in 2016 and has since become a feature of the global energy landscape. Unexpectedly durable Saudi-Russian collaboration has increased the size of the cartel and its level of discipline and effectiveness, while imbuing it with a more “hawkish” pursuit of higher oil prices. In staking out these positions, Riyadh has also demonstrated increasing support for Russia’s interests while distancing itself from US influence in ways that have tested the basis of a relationship built partly around “oil for security.” In particular, the kingdom has grown less willing to consent to US presidential requests to increase oil production or follow the US lead in isolating Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. The OPEC+ group’s Oct. 5, 2022, decision to aggressively cut production despite vehement US opposition is emblematic of this changed dynamic.
The change in Saudi behavior, intensified under the Biden administration, represents a clear break from the kingdom’s oil market strategy since the 1980s. It appears to leave the US executive branch with fewer short-run options for dealing with spikes in oil prices. The president’s subsequent sale of oil from emergency stocks held in the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve is one result. However, the enhancement of Saudi leverage is partly due to tight oil markets, which suggests that any tilt toward Riyadh in the balance of power may be temporary.
Uncertainties exist around the durability of both US-Saudi and Saudi-Russia relations and the degree to which they can coexist at a time of far greater strategic rivalry, great power competition, and transitioning energy systems. The diplomatic drift between Riyadh and Washington may be temporary, given continued co-dependence on defense and security partnerships that benefit both partners. Meanwhile, the long-term robustness of the less tested Saudi-Russia friendship remains in question. While the two autocratic exporters share common interests, many points of friction exist that could unwind the partnership.
Since 2016, Saudi Arabia and Russia have pursued a high level of cooperation in oil markets under the aegis of the expanded Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries group, the so-called OPEC+ cartel. That collaboration has resulted in higher oil prices and a successful drive to reduce supply during the pandemic-driven loss in oil demand.
The alignment of short-term economic interests that has united Riyadh and Moscow coincides with cracks in the deeper relationships that tied Saudi Arabia into the long-running US-led web of political, security, and defense partnerships in the Persian Gulf. The Saudi leadership has grown more assertive about projecting its own interests and preparing for a potential future in which the US is less engaged in the Middle East. For the Russian leadership, close coordination of energy policies with countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates brings respite from international sanctions and counters US-led attempts to isolate Russia in the global economy. The new partnerships also provide Russia geostrategic “wins” by roiling hitherto solid US regional partnerships and opening avenues for Moscow to weaponize oil as leverage against the US and other consuming countries.
The Saudi-Russia friendship has proven surprisingly durable despite several potential break points: a short-lived oil price war in 2020, the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, and US and European pressure on Saudi Arabia to increase supply amid sanctions on Russian exports (which were rebuffed by Riyadh). These alone suggest that the relationship is more robust and potentially deeper than many in Washington or European capitals initially presumed.
Saudi Arabia’s collaboration with Moscow also exists in defiance of the longstanding US-Saudi military-economic partnership that provides hard security protection for the kingdom and its neighbors and in return has benefited from stable oil supplies to world markets. Saudi-Russia ties also reverse the decades of Cold War enmity between Saudi Arabia and the anti-monarchy and atheist Soviet Union and demonstrate a rapid improvement in bilateral diplomatic relations that were only restored in 1990.
We find several factors behind the dramatic improvement in Saudi-Russian relations. These include the rise of US shale oil production, which undercut OPEC’s market power and pushed Saudi Arabia to seek Russian cooperation. Washington had also been telegraphing weariness of its longstanding hands-on security role in the Middle East and seeking to reduce involvement and costs. Contributing factors include friction between US and Saudi leaders, particularly over human rights in the kingdom. Further, Saudi and other Persian Gulf leaders have described a perception of growing unreliability of American defense guarantees. These took the form of US willingness to cut support for partner regimes such as that of Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt and, most shockingly for Riyadh, the Trump administration’s blasé reaction to the missile and drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September 2019.
Another consequential development is the more overt partisan preferences of the Saudi leadership in US politics. Since the death in 2015 of King Abdullah and the accession of King Salman and the rise to decision-making power of his son, the crown prince and prime minister Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi regime has worked more closely with Republican administrations than Democratic ones. Contrasts have grown especially stark between the more confrontational Biden administration, which has been unable to win Saudi concessions, and the Trump administration, which embraced the Saudi regime and enjoyed high-level Saudi cooperation. Mohammed bin Salman appears to hold a worldview that has more in common with Vladimir Putin than with the current US political leadership. At 37 years old, the crown prince looks set to dominate Saudi policymaking for decades to come.
The Saudi-Russia friendship already seems to be countering and weakening US influence in Riyadh. Continued improvement in relations with Moscow could portend serious repercussions in Washington. Most significant is the vanishing Saudi willingness to heed US calls to temper global oil prices in line with the political needs of the current administration. Despite perceptions among the American public, US presidents have precious few options for influencing oil prices that feed directly into gasoline prices. Convincing Riyadh to activate spare oil production capacity has historically been among the most effective. The October OPEC+ cuts in oil production resulted in an extraordinary high-level dispute between the Biden administration and the Saudi regime, with both sides issuing accusatory and defensive public statements on October 13, 2022.
The unfolding dynamic is raising the stature of Russian President Vladimir Putin as a powerbroker within OPEC+ and undermining US and allied attempts to isolate Russia in the international community. Saudi Arabia has demonstrated a surprising affinity for Russia on several occasions, from the recent increase in purchase of Russian heavy Mazut fuel oil embargoed by the United States, to Mohammed bin Salman’s acceptance of phone calls from Putin, and refusal to take calls from Biden in the weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
Despite common interests, especially in the short-term, we believe at least four points of friction between Russia and Saudi Arabia are likely to come to the fore in the medium- to longer-term. First, with Russia losing the EU market for its commodity exports, Riyadh and Moscow are simultaneously pivoting to Asia and competing for market share in a region that has long been a stronghold for Saudi exports. Saudi shares in the Indian and Chinese markets are being lost to Russia. Given the greater long-term attractiveness of market share in Asia versus Europe, tensions could arise over Saudi losses.
Second, an embattled Moscow has intensified cooperation with Saudi rival Iran, including in the military sphere with the provision of Iranian Shahed-136 drones to Russian forces operating in Ukraine. Russia, unlike the US, is unlikely to pick sides in regional geopolitics involving Saudi Arabia and Iran. Washington, by contrast, has consistently taken Riyadh’s side versus Iran for more than four decades.
Third, Russian brutality and incompetence in Ukraine undermines Moscow’s utility as a future military partner for Saudi Arabia or provider of weapons capable of replicating the range and depth of defense links with the US.
Fourth, Russia and Saudi Arabia, as all hydrocarbon exporters, face increasing uncertainty around climate action’s effects on oil demand. As oil loses its monopoly as the dominant transport fuel, the geopolitical stature of oil exporters could decline, and competition between them may increase.
Any of these factors could undermine the still tenuous Saudi-Russia ties.
The long-run effects on US-Saudi ties is also unclear. While Riyadh’s overt favoritism for one US political party could backfire in the United States, it remains equally possible that the US-Saudi breach is a temporary falling out, as occurred over the Saudi government-ordered murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Mohammed bin Salman and other Saudi elites telegraphed their disdain for Biden’s public chastisement during his presidential campaign in 2019. The diplomatic breach could be partly resolved under a new US administration, unless continued stress in the relationship begins to inflict long-term damage.
The historical trajectory of Saudi Arabia and the five other Gulf monarchies was for much of the 20th century oriented firmly toward a conservative status quo that marked them as distinct from most other countries in the Middle East, especially between the 1950s and the 1980s. All six Gulf states developed a reputation for political caution that contrasted sharply with radical movements of national liberation in much of the developing world. Such conservativism impeded the growth of political and economic links with the Soviet Union and China, especially as both Socialist bloc countries provided ideological and material support for an uprising in southern Oman in the 1970s.
Saudi-US ties go back to the original 1933 oil concession with Standard Oil of California (later Chevron), which brought in Texaco, Mobil, and Exxon to form the Aramco joint venture. Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938 and exports took off after the end of World War II.
The 1945 meeting between the kingdom’s founder Ibn Saud and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt aboard the USS Quincy near the Suez Canal bolstered government-to-government ties, as did US financial and military support to the fledgling kingdom in the 1950s.
Strong bilateral ties were cemented by the Saudi role in oil markets that emerged after the 1973 embargo, when the kingdom and Arab allies, angered over US support for Israel in the 1973 war, used supply cuts to demonstrate their ability to damage national economies and raise transportation costs. The damaging embargo underscored Saudi Arabia’s strategic importance to the global economy. After the 1979 Iranian revolution toppled the US-allied Shah, Washington drew closer to Saudi Arabia. The relationship took on greater strategic importance amid the shared perceived threat from communism.
Cold War cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia reached its zenith in Afghanistan, when US and Saudi support of Afghan and Arab fighters helped end the nearly 10-year Soviet occupation in 1989. Moscow’s Afghan travails were aided by a Saudi-driven oil price collapse in 1985-86.
Following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, King Fahd requested and received enormous US military support. Saudi Arabia hosted more than 500,000 US and allied troops during the Gulf War in January-February 1991.
However, the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union dissolved the strategic glue—anti-communism—that engendered such close US-Saudi cooperation. Since then, Riyadh’s ties with Washington shifted to a more transactional footing. Further ruptures came in the September 11 attacks in 2001, when the extent of Saudi participation caused serious damage to the relationship. In 2003, US forces based in the kingdom relocated to neighboring Qatar.
Spare Oil Production Capacity
By the mid-1980s, Saudi Aramco (as the company became known after nationalization in 1980) was left with excess oil production capacity as global oil market conditions shifted toward oversupply. Over time, Saudi Arabia learned that its spare capacity could be leveraged for geopolitical gain at times of market tightness. Bringing on spare capacity to ease shortages and prices improved relations with global powers such as the United States, Britain, and Japan.
Starting in the 1990s, US interventions against oil producing countries were launched with tacit cooperation from Riyadh. At one time or another, Saudi Arabia has been called upon to replace lost oil exports from Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, and Iran. As the strategic value of spare output became clear, Saudi Aramco invested to maintain a lasting stock of excess production capacity.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign commitment to maintain spare production capacity is unique in the modern history of the global oil market. Ranging between 1 million and 2.5 million barrels per day, Saudi spare capacity has become by default the first line of defense in a global energy security arrangement that also includes the US and other members of the International Energy Agency. Each party maintains strategic stockpiles while engaging in cooperative emergency planning, including strategic stocks as well as plans for demand restraint, fuel switching, and other cooperation.
Saudi Arabia may not hold spare capacity in perpetuity. A recent statement by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman suggested a potential a change in the kingdom’s approach, which could have profound consequences for oil markets and security. On July 16, 2022, during President Biden’s visit, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman addressed future capacity plans. Much of the trade press focused on his statement that the kingdom would raise production capacity from 12 million b/d to 13 million, which was a reiteration of longstanding Saudi Aramco plans. Less attention was focused on the rest of the statement. After mentioning the expansion to 13 Mb/d, the Crown Prince stated that “after that, the kingdom will not have any more capability to increase production.”
Such a statement represents a break from the past, when Saudi officials argued that Aramco had plans and ability to raise production capacity to 15 Mb/d to meet market demands while also meeting the kingdom’s strategic commitment to maintaining a buffer of spare production capacity. If the kingdom is no longer prepared to increase production capacity and maintain over 1 Mb/d spare capacity, future oil markets would almost certainly become tighter and more vulnerable to price spikes in the face of disruptions.
The US Presence in the Persian Gulf
In January 1980, US President Jimmy Carter stated that the US would use force, if necessary, to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf. The declaration, made during Carter’s annual State of the Union Address, became known as the Carter Doctrine. The Carter Doctrine had been pre-formulated in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan rather than the Islamic revolution in Iran. It established the expectation that the US would intervene in support of its regional partners in the Gulf when they faced external (not internal) threats, as exemplified by the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Although the US withdrew most of its troops from Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War ended in 1991, some remained. After Iraq again threatened Kuwait in 1994, the US became a resident (rather than an “over the horizon”) participant in Gulf security, including in Saudi Arabia itself. The permanence of the US role provoked virulent opposition from Osama bin Laden and formed the basis for his notorious declaration of “Jihad against Jews and Crusaders” in 1998.
In recent years the assumptions laid out in the Carter Doctrine have weakened, fueled by the US shale revolution and public fatigue with Middle East intervention. Longer term, climate action portends further decline in the strategic importance of oil exporters, and of US willingness to extend protection. These and other factors suggest a propensity for further weakening of the Carter Doctrine and basis of the US-Saudi relationship.
The 2019 attack on the Abqaiq processing plant and the Khurais oilfield, credibly but never formally attributed to Iran, took nearly 6 million barrels per day (Mb/d) of Saudi oil production offline for a short period. The Trump administration’s tepid response—Trump publicly declared the incident an attack on Saudi rather than US interests, thereby drawing a distinction between the two—suggested a new level of disengagement. The attacks, and lack of US response, shook Saudi confidence in the deterrent value of the US military and security footprint in the Persian Gulf, especially as the Abqaiq incident followed months of smaller-scale targeting of maritime and energy facilities in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Gulf leaders’ frustration with the Abqaiq response exacerbated their prior disappointment with President Obama’s approach to regional affairs such as the US abandonment of Hosni Mubarak, a longtime partner, in Egypt in 2011 and the conduct of nuclear negotiations with Iran—without Saudi participation—between 2013 and 2015. Gulf elites questioned whether the US remained engaged with the Middle East and began to second-guess US policies as rarely before. By the mid-2010s, there was a growing conviction in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and other Middle East capitals that regional leaders needed to project and prioritize their own interests with less regard to whether those interests dovetailed with those of Washington. The Saudi-UAE military intervention in Yemen in 2015 is one example.
As Biden took office in 2021, mounting uncertainty in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi about US “staying power” in the Persian Gulf had extended to a third US presidential administration. It made rational sense for policymakers to diversify foreign policy relationships. This process began in the UAE in the 2000s and extended to Saudi Arabia in the 2010s. In practice, such diversification has come under strain in a world of great power rivalries and strategic competition. As relations with adversarial states such as Russia and China extend into the strategic space of US partners in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, intensifying pressure is being exerted on preexisting ties with Washington.
Historical Trends in Saudi-Russian Relations
Saudi-Russian relations got off to a positive start. The Soviet Union was the first country to recognize the Kingdom of Hejaz and Najd in 1926 and extended this recognition to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. However, Saudi-Soviet ties were never institutionalized and frayed after Stalin barred Soviet Muslims from performing the Hajj. Diplomatic relations were cut in 1938 and continued to be undermined by Moscow’s virulent anti-monarchy stance and its support of pro-revolutionary groups and broadcasts into the Arabian Peninsula that began in the 1950s.
Diplomatic Relations with Russia
Saudi Arabia did not reestablish diplomatic relations with Moscow until 1990, as the Cold War was ending and the Soviet Union was fragmenting into successor states, including Russia. The revival built on contacts focused on oil cooperation that started in 1987. A visit to Moscow that year by Saudi oil minister Hisham Nazer did not lead to an agreement but identified mutual interests between Riyadh and Moscow.
Formal diplomatic ties were restored during the Gulf crisis, when Soviet leaders worked with their American counterparts at the UN Security Council on behalf of the US-led coalition effort to push Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. Riyadh simultaneously established diplomatic relations with China, another former Cold War foe.
Riyadh-Moscow relations were held back in the 1990s by Saudi concerns over Russian arms sales to Iran and support for Tehran’s nuclear program, alongside Russian concerns over Saudi backing for militant groups in Chechnya and elsewhere in the post-Soviet sphere. High-level ties improved after the geopolitical shock of September 11, 2001, and converging Russian-Saudi skepticism over the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
By 2001, Russia was joining other non-OPEC states in cooperating with OPEC in cutting output. In 2003, Crown Prince Abdullah became the most senior Saudi to visit Moscow since his half-brother, Faisal, in 1932. As king, Abdullah welcomed Putin to Saudi Arabia in February 2007. Putin’s visit came a day after the Russian leader criticized US international overreach in an infamous speech to the Munich Security Forum.
Energy agreements have loomed large in the high-level visits that have continued since. In 2003, Lukoil became the first Russian energy company to operate in Saudi Arabia, amid an ultimately failed joint venture with Saudi Aramco and other foreign investors aiming to find tight gas in Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter. Lukoil withdrew in 2016.
Putin discussed Russian involvement in a potential Saudi nuclear power program during his 2007 visit. In 2015 the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with state-owned Rosatom. KA-CARE and Rosatom subsequently signed an implementing agreement, covering small and medium reactors, in 2017, and in 2019 KA-CARE announced it had received reactor bid proposals from Russia alongside those from the US, France, South Korea, and China. Construction has yet to commence on any nuclear power plant in the kingdom.
The Salman Effect
The largest factor energizing the Saudi-Russian relationship was the 2015 accession of King Salman, and the subsequent rise of Mohammed bin Salman, who has consistently displayed a willingness to disrupt the status quo in both domestic and foreign policy. The crown prince has prioritized friendship with Moscow and exerted control over decision-making in a manner unprecedented in recent Saudi history.
Diplomatic exchanges and bilateral agreements under King Salman have bolstered the Saudi-Russia relationship just as US-Saudi ties have become strained. One of Mohammed bin Salman’s first international trips after his appointment as deputy crown prince in April 2015 was to St. Petersburg for a meeting on oil issues with Putin.
Salman became the first Saudi king to visit Russia when he paid a state visit to Moscow in October 2017 and signed agreements with President Putin that included the creation of a joint energy investment fund worth US$1 billion. Salman’s visit to Russia, which remains his last major international trip, stood in contrast to his tentative plans to visit the US in early 2018. Salman abandoned the US visit amid his opposition to the Trump administration’s relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
King Salman and Mohammed bin Salman met with Putin when he visited Saudi Arabia in October 2019. By that time Saudi and Russian energy ministers Alexander Novak and Khalid al-Falih (and later Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman) had established productive working relationships within the framework of the enlarged OPEC+ arrangement.
High-level collaboration continued with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF)’s formation of a joint fund with the Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) as well as a Russian-Saudi Energy Investment platform that includes Saudi Aramco. Areas of cooperation between the two sovereign funds included infrastructure, technology, health care, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and consumer goods and services.
Notably the PIF, in common with other Gulf-based sovereign wealth funds, including those in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE, continued to work with RDIF after the latter was placed under US sanctions by the Obama administration after the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. This was an early indication that US partners in the Gulf would no longer automatically follow the US lead on disputes they felt did not directly involve them.
The value to Moscow of its expanded relationship with Saudi Arabia became clear in the weeks and months following Russia’s second, February 2022, invasion of Ukraine. Russia faced a barrage of sanctions from governments of the so-called “Western alliance,” with which Saudi Arabia had been associated since the Cold War. Rather than supporting the sanctions imposed by its traditional partners, Saudi Arabia curtailed the effects of those sanctions by maintaining cooperation with Russia through OPEC+. The kingdom and neighboring monarchies kept diplomatic and trade channels with Moscow open, even providing an economic window for President Putin to retaliate against the West.
OPEC+’s extraordinary 2Mb/d production cut in October—supported by Riyadh and Moscow against protests of other member states and Washington—is the largest manifestation. Russian officials left no doubt of the retaliatory intent of the cut. A statement by a Kremlin spokesperson described the OPEC+ agreement as comprising “balanced, thoughtful, and planned work of the countries that take a responsible position within OPEC, as opposed to the actions of the US.” The spokesperson added: “This at least balances the mayhem that the Americans are causing.” Frustratingly for the Biden administration and its EU allies, the improvement of Russia’s strategic position with OPEC+ and Saudi Arabia served to limit the influence of Washington in cartel decisions.
Signs of a Changing US-Saudi Relationship
It was the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse that began the process of dissolving the strategic glue that bound Washington and Riyadh in their anticommunist mission. Ties remained close, but the relationship became more transactional, based on mutual interests, rather than in ideological confrontation between multinational blocs. One of the features of the declining strategic connection has been the waxing and waning of relations under successive US administrations.
Effects of the US Shale Boom
One of the biggest factors damaging the US-Saudi relationship has been the enormous surge in US oil production since the onset of the shale oil boom. Between 2009 and 2019, US oil production rose by nearly 10 Mb/d, by far the largest 10-year increase the world has ever seen. This increase made the United States the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, and self-sufficient in oil for the first time since at least 1950.
Shale’s effects on OPEC were marked. US growth helped reduce OPEC’s share of global oil production from 43% in 2008 to 37% in 2019, before the pandemic undermined oil demand. Between production cuts and sanctions or internal unrest in member countries, OPEC production fell in five of 10 years between 2010 and 2019, including each year during 2017-19 after the OPEC+ arrangement was formalized in 2016.
Figure 1 — US Grabs OPEC+ Market Share
Meanwhile, the US became a net oil exporter in 2020, leaving some in the US foreign policy community wondering whether Washington needed to continue spending some $100 billion per year for a military presence and support for Gulf partners.
The concurrence of rising US production and OPEC’s subsequent cuts was frustrating for OPEC producers. The US oil sector, with thousands of private firms taking investment signals from the market rather than governments, were essentially free-riding on OPEC’s cuts: not only taking market share but undermining OPEC’s influence over prices.
It was against this backdrop that Saudi Arabia and Russia came together in 2016 to form OPEC+. This was a period of sustained low oil prices. The resulting economic pain and budget pressures gave Riyadh and Moscow a common interest in cooperating to drive prices back up. Shale thus created a common cause between Saudi Arabia and Russia while undermining the oil-for-security tradeoff upon which the Washington-Riyadh ties were based.
Overplaying Shale-based ‘Independence’ from Saudi Arabia
However, America’s shale-based exuberance has been tempered by stubborn realities of the oil market. A reduction in direct dependence on Saudi Arabia failed to shield Americans from Riyadh’s crucial role in “price formation.” The kingdom has supplied a steady 12-13% of global oil since 1992 and remains—along with Russia—one of the world’s largest oil exporters.
The kingdom accounts for too large a share of the global market to be covered by any conceivable short-run combination of producers or strategic stockpiles. Riyadh is also the de-facto leader within OPEC, with significant convening and signaling power within the cartel and its broader OPEC+ membership. Few decisions within the cartel can withstand Saudi opposition.
But the kingdom’s real strength in oil markets arises from its world-leading spare production capacity. Spare capacity gives it the ability to quickly raise output on command from the Saudi government, and has been useful in reducing the effects of oil outages due to natural disasters and political events, as well as those caused by US sanctions or military interventions. Saudi Aramco has even brought on spare capacity to assist incumbent US presidents with reelection, providing a helpful supply boost to push down gasoline prices.
Were Riyadh to lose or refuse to leverage its spare capacity, oil markets and US prices would grow more volatile. Production increases would be significantly more onerous, requiring price increases large enough to signal to companies to invest in new sources of supply. Drilling rigs and crews would have to be procured and new wells planned and drilled. Delivering new supply would take months or years, rather than the weeks it takes Saudi Arabia. In this context, a decline in US influence in Saudi Arabia carries direct consequences in US transportation costs.
Another factor that exposes the United States to changes in Saudi oil market behavior is the vast level of US consumption. The US remains by far the world’s largest consumer of oil, at nearly a fifth of the global total. US 2021 consumption was 18.7 Mb/d, higher than China’s consumption of 15.4 Mb/d despite a population a quarter as large.
Growth in US oil production has moderated prices at the margin, but since US oil and product prices are set in a global marketplace, the relevant indicator for US prices (and US drivers and voters) is not US self-sufficiency, but changes in global supply and demand balances. Saudi ability to make quick adjustments in supply carries the largest influence on market pricing.
The broadening of OPEC to include Russia and the other OPEC+ members was a response to the rise of US shale. As demonstrated by the successful regime of cutting production in the pandemic and only incrementally restoring output thereafter (and the rapid recovery of crude oil prices), OPEC has regained market power.
An enlarged OPEC is not the only force confronting US shale producers. US production has also been reined in by investors’ focus on “capital discipline” and profitability over output growth. Should US producers return to the prior “market share” strategy, Saudi Arabia and Russia could mount a more effective response through OPEC+.
Have US National Interests Changed?
In short, US policymaking circles overstated shale’s delivery of “independence” in US foreign policy and in reducing “dependence” on oil-exporting governments. While some energy security gains have accrued, those were tempered by shale’s encouragement of Saudi-Russian oil market management. As a result, Washington has lost influence on Saudi oil market strategy, which has played out in declining control over US transport costs.
Another US misconception, at least within the Biden administration, stems from the undervaluing of oil relative to human rights within the hierarchy of US national interests. While calls to protect human rights outside US borders resonate more with US voters than calls to protect oil producer states and their exports, the magnitude is reversed within the ranking of US national interests.
Ensuring the “viability and stability of major global systems” including energy supplies is ranked fourth on the list of vital US interests, behind only prevention of nuclear war, ensuring the survival of US allies, and prevention of failed states on US borders. Human rights sit far down the hierarchy, after a further dozen higher priority interests.
Once again, the importance of oil—and oil’s status as a “vital” US interest—is based on oil’s continued role as the leading source of US and global energy, including its near-monopoly among transportation fuels, and Americans’ world-leading demand. Any changes in those factors could reduce oil’s importance relative to competing national interests, including human rights. Already, however, the differing priority placed on human rights in bilateral conversations with Saudi Arabia has caused pushback for the Biden administration—which is not something that currently endangers or threatens to imperil Saudi-Russia ties.
The contrasting stances by presidents Trump and Biden to the importance of these interests suggests that Trump’s treatment of Saudi Arabia hewed closer to traditional interpretations of US national interests. This adds to the perception that Saudi leaders feel more comfortable with Republican administrations, which is perhaps why the timing of OPEC+’s Oct. 5, 2022, production cut caused such fury in Washington. The cut, just ahead of the November midterm election, was seen by many in the Washington establishment as an attack on the Democratic Party’s chances in the vote.
Differing Saudi Responses to the Invasions of Kuwait and Ukraine
Another of the signs of the Saudi tilt toward Russia is the dichotomy in its responses to the invasions of Kuwait and Ukraine. In 1990, a major oil producer, Iraq, invaded a smaller neighbor, Kuwait, with the intention of annexing its territory. The invasion removed about 4.2 Mb/d in combined Iraqi and Kuwaiti oil supply.
Saudi Arabia quickly responded with an aggressive release of spare capacity to limit the increase in global oil prices. Saudi output rose from 5.4 Mb/d in July, a month before the invasion, to nearly 8 Mb/d by September. The increase helped to help stabilize prices and limit the war’s disruption to the world economy. Saudi leaders also worked with international partners, including all five permanent members of the UN Security Council, throughout the Gulf crisis.
Saudi Arabia’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been very different. Whereas in 1990-91, Saudi decision-making was consensual and cautious, and the conduct of foreign policy was in the pragmatic and experienced hands of Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi responses to the Ukraine crisis have demonstrated a more neutral position.
The Saudi leadership not only feels no need to “pick sides” but has become more assertive in how and with whom it engages. Despite fears of an oil supply disruption, Saudi Arabia has continued to work with Russia within the OPEC+ group to manage production. In October 2022, contrary to the entreaties of the Biden administration, OPEC+ agreed to cut production targets by 2 Mb/d to support prices.
Granted, the circumstances are dissimilar. In August 1990, Saudi and US officials initially feared that Iraqi forces might not stop at Kuwait but instead sweep south into the Saudi oilfields of the Eastern Province. Saudi officials later assessed that Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard forces could have occupied the governorate of al-Ahsa in about six hours. Put simply, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait threatened the security of Saudi Arabia in a way that the Russian invasion of Ukraine does not.
But the seeming Saudi acquiescence of Russia’s invasion suggests that Riyadh continues to see value in its newfound ties to Russia and their joint stewardship of oil markets since the COVID pandemic.
Moscow’s success in keeping Saudi Arabia onside throughout this period is, we feel, an underappreciated diplomatic achievement of President Putin. Any decline in Saudi willingness to bring on its spare oil production capacity when called upon by Washington has major implications for oil consumers around the world, including in the United States, and for the domestic approval of incumbent US presidents. Moreover, both Saudi Arabia and Russia continue to show strong support for the OPEC+ arrangement, agreeing at the group’s latest meeting to extend the group’s Declaration of Cooperation through 2023. This suggests that OPEC+ is a new geopolitical reality to which the US and others must adapt.
Where once US presidents were free to publicly criticize the kingdom as long as they provided assurances in private, one can now imagine a situation where Saudi oil market cooperation is withheld. Saudi-Russian cooperation complicates the dynamic, providing Riyadh with a new rationale for a tougher stance. Will Russia get a veto on deployment of Saudi spare capacity? Such a question no longer sounds preposterous.
Further Intersecting Trends
Saudi-Russian oil market cooperation has unfolded alongside other significant developments.
- Unsuccessful state visits or entreaties from Biden, as well as French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah in December 2021 and hosted him in Paris in July 2022; UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who traveled to Saudi Arabia (and the UAE) in March 2022; and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who did the same in September 2022.
- Joint announcements from Saudi Arabia and Russia of a broadening of relations to include security cooperation, arms sales, and energy investments. These announcements predated the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s poor performance may undermine the conclusion of such agreements. It nevertheless remains difficult to foresee Russia (or others, such as China) stepping in to replicate the full range of security and defense agreements the US has been able to provide its Gulf partners over decades.
- Saudi Arabia (along with the UAE) began purchasing modest quantities of Russian heavy Mazut fuel oil over the summer of 2022. The purchase capitalized on discounts by Russian marketers seeking new markets after reduced sales to Europe and the US, after a formal embargo declared by President Biden.
- Saudi-Russian ties are being instigated from the Saudi side at least as fervently as the Russian. Had Mohammed bin Nayef remained in his position as crown prince—rather than being ousted in 2017—it would be difficult to imagine the kingdom maneuvering away from the United States in favor of Russia.
Taken together, the developments suggest an increasing Saudi autonomy from US diplomatic pressure, and a decline in the already weak influence of US presidents over oil markets. US officials need to rethink how best they can exert leverage to pursue American interests in a relationship that is more transactional and less rooted in shared interests.
Factors That Could Limit Saudi-Russian Cooperation
A key question remains about the durability of the Saudi-Russian friendship. Is the alliance a temporary phenomenon driven by mutual interests in oil and disdain for the Biden administration? Or is the friendship likely to gain strategic underpinnings that allow it to endure across changes in US administrations?
At the moment, the former seems more likely. Despite common interests, maintaining close simultaneous relations with Washington and Putin’s government will be difficult. Further, the depth and breadth of the US-Saudi relationship that has evolved over decades spans a far wider spectrum than Saudi-Russia ties. The United States was the kingdom’s fifth-largest export destination in 2020, after China, Japan, India, and South Korea. The US economy was responsible for about 8% of global merchandise exports and 13% of global imports in 2021, versus Russia’s 2% of exports and just over 1% of imports. Simply by dint of size and influence, one would expect the Saudi leadership to prioritize relations with the US economy over that of Russia, especially as Riyadh’s ambitious “giga-projects” in construction, diversification, and decarbonization take shape.
Moreover, the outsize role the US still plays in Persian Gulf security shows no real sign of diminishing, notwithstanding perceptions of US disengagement that have proven stubbornly hard to dispel. The US continues to retain in the region a set of military forces and strategic assets that no other country can even begin to approximate. This includes the stationing of the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, the forward headquarters of Central Command in Qatar, and the network of defense cooperation agreements and basing facilities across the six Gulf states that constitute the US regional security umbrella.
Indeed, the US naval base in Bahrain and air force base in Qatar have each been expanded over the past decade, while US military facilities in Qatar and the UAE have taken on renewed importance following the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in 2021.
Notably, Saudi Arabia did not follow through with the acquisition of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system after an agreement to purchase the system was reported in Saudi media during King Salman’s visit to Moscow in 2017. Instead, the kingdom purchased the US THAAD air defense system from Lockheed Martin, which includes a Saudi manufacturing component. This suggests that Riyadh understands the shortcomings of security and defense ties with Russia, particularly those that would be incompatible with Washington’s ongoing $100 billion in active military sales to the Saudi ministries of defense and interior, as well as to the Saudi National Guard.
Saudi Points of Friction with Russia
At least two other factors also threaten to dampen the Saudi-Russian friendship.
First, both countries remain competitors within oil markets, particularly for access to the growing economies in Asia. Saudi Arabia (and the other Gulf producers) have focused on these markets for decades, supplying crude oil but also setting up joint ventures in refining and petrochemicals in China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, and India. In 2019, Saudi Arabia was the largest supplier of crude oil to China and the second-largest supplier to India after Iraq.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, however, enormous Russian oil flows have been diverted to Asia from Europe and the United States, while exports from Saudi Arabia and its neighbors have redirected toward Europe. To date, the Saudi leadership has not publicly challenged Russia over losses of Asian market share. But the kingdom’s long-run focus on access to those markets suggests the current dynamic is not sustainable.
A second complexifying factor is the increasingly close relations between Russia and Iran. Given the view of Iran within the kingdom as a regional hegemonic foe, the Russian ties with Iran could pose another future challenge. Russia’s interests in Iran remain far deeper than those of the United States, which—despite some attempts at conflict management—has not maintained formal diplomatic ties with Iran since the 1970s. As mentioned above, Washington has consistently taken Riyadh’s side in conflicts with Iran for more than four decades.
Future Implications and Things to Watch For
It also remains possible—albeit less likely—that Washington’s historically close relations with Riyadh could continue to be displaced by a strengthening working relationship between Saudi Arabia and Russia. How might this unfold?
One potential near-term avenue could arise via the EU embargo on Russian oil imports alongside any imposition by the G7 group of major economies to impose a price cap on Russian oil. A further loss in Russian oil exports to the world economy might not be assuaged in the usual manner, by Saudi Arabia bringing online its spare production capacity. If Riyadh refused to offset lost Russian oil, relations with Washington would continue to suffer.
Another avenue for improving Saudi-Russian ties would come through improving military-economic cooperation. Any increase in Russian military presence in or near the Persian Gulf would signal Riyadh’s willingness to “diversify” its security provision. However, Russia’s poor performance against Ukraine suggests little ability to provide security in the Gulf.
Nuclear cooperation offers a more realistic avenue. Saudi Arabia and Russia starting in 2015 signed various agreements on the design and construction of reactors. Given Saudi preferences for self-enrichment of uranium—opposed by Washington—Russian nuclear assistance could prove strategically valuable.
On the economic side, an increase in Saudi investment in Russia is possible, given low valuations and prior expressions of Saudi interest. Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s most technically sophisticated oil firms, would have myriad technological and service benefits to offer. Aramco has expertise in managing large, aging conventional fields with increasing amounts of produced water, but less understanding of Arctic frontier developments that Russia would like to pursue.
Saudi Arabia’s extraordinary friendship with Russia has coincided with a shift in Saudi oil market strategy in the OPEC+ cartel. The Saudi position has become increasingly price-hawkish and dismissive of US interests, while disregarding macroeconomic risks of higher oil prices to an inflationary global economy.
Saudi-Russian cooperation has proven durable, withstanding a pandemic and an oil price war, as well as Russia’s disastrous Ukraine invasion and diplomatic isolation. The Putin regime’s oil market cooperation with Saudi Arabia remains one of the Russian president’s few remaining venues for exerting geopolitical influence. Deeper strains on the relationship are likely to materialize in the future. Will Saudi Arabia continue to stand by Moscow?
At the same time, urgent questions are arising about the durability of Saudi discontent with its relationship with the United States. Riyadh certainly has legitimate complaints around US abidance to the expectations of the “oil for security” bargain. But are those qualms deep enough to lead the kingdom to willfully cast aside a close partnership of nearly 80 years? One suspects not.
From the US side as well, there exist legitimate qualms with the behavior of the Saudi leadership, both domestically, in human rights, and globally in oil markets. It may be that current Saudi leadership is more sensitive to periodically negative portrayals in American political rhetoric than previous Saudi regimes. But as American hubris around the energy security advantages of shale oil dissipates, the realization is being reinforced that Saudi spare capacity remains a crucial component of US energy security.
Choosing when to exercise that spare capacity—and when to refuse—gives the Saudi regime influence over the popularity of a presidential administration, particularly when oil markets are tight, as they were in October 2022. As long as oil prices remain a major risk factor in US politics, future US administrations would be advised to tread carefully with the kingdom. Likewise for Saudi Arabia, caution is warranted. Public displays of discontent with Washington are a matter that Washington can probably get used to. But when Saudi actions deliberately inflate US gasoline prices at election time, such actions are perceived as hostile political interference and can undermine and damage bilateral relations.
ANNEX: Potential US Policy Options Toward Riyadh
How might the Biden administration use policy to push for change in Riyadh’s calculations? We provide a list of potential options below, none of which constitute endorsements by the authors. Indeed, our hope is for a reasonable diplomatic solution that recognizes the mutual benefits to Washington and Riyadh of this crucial relationship. However, the broad array of diplomatic, military, and trade contact points between Saudi Arabia and the United States suggest numerous options, including:
- Freezing of arms sales or security cooperation
- Downgrading intelligence cooperation or withholding the sharing of intelligence in certain areas
- Issuing a determination on Mohammed bin Salman’s sovereign immunity that enables legal cases relating to the death of Jamal Khashoggi to move ahead
- Declassifying CIA reporting on the Saudi government role in the Khashoggi murder or the September 11 attacks
- Withdrawing aspects of US military protection, in part or in full, temporarily, or permanently
- Removing or shifting one or more US missile defense batteries from Saudi Arabia to a neighboring country
- Not opposing congressional measures to withhold support for sales of defensive weapons or pressure the administration to redeploy military assets in Saudi Arabia to other theaters
- Recalling the US ambassador or lodging a protest with the Saudi embassy
- Restricting access to US technology such as semiconductors or nuclear power components
- Restricting access to US universities or enhancing visa requirements
- Enacting legislation to retract sovereign immunity for national governments and oil companies that collude to fix oil prices (the so-called NOPEC legislation)
- Imposing secondary sanctions on importers of Russian Mazut fuel oil
- Relaxing enforcement of oil export sanctions on Iran and/or Venezuela
- Engaging in US talks with the Houthi leadership in Yemen
- Encouraging the UAE to make a diplomatic shift away from Saudi Arabia
- Signaling increased US support for development of oil substitutes, fuel efficiency, and electrification of US transportation
The authors would like to thank the Baker Institute’s Michael Maher for his input on this paper.
 Edward Luce, “The Saudi Prince’s Ominous Axis with Putin,” Financial Times, October 7, 2022.
 See Saudi Foreign Ministry statement, October 13, 2022, Saudi Press Agency, https://www.spa.gov.sa/viewfullstory.php?lang=en&newsid=2391943; Biden administration statement, October 13, 2022, https://twitter.com/Phil_Mattingly/status/1580559074474610690.
 The six Gulf states are the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, namely Saudi Arabia as well as Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
 Although the kingdom did purchase the CSS-2 missile system from China in the late 1980s. See “Chinese Sell Saudis Missiles Capable of Covering Mideast,” Washington Post, March 18, 1988, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1988/03/18/chinese-sell-saudis-missiles-capable-of-covering-mideast/c9dfdf67-3697-42a8-9164-e0239a0b3154/.
 Victor McFarland, Oil Powers: A History of the U.S.-Saudi Alliance (New York: Columbia University Press, 2020).
 David Rundell, Vision or Mirage: Saudi Arabia at a Crossroads (London: I.B. Tauris, 2020), p.174.
 David Des Roches, “A Base Is More than Buildings: The Military Implications of the Qatar Crisis,” War on the Rocks, June 8, 2017.
 See, for example, comments by former Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi in Rania El Gamal, “Will Saudi boost oil capacity? Naimi's retort: Show me 10 pct return,” Reuters, June 5, 2015, https://www.reuters.com/article/opec-meeting-saudi-capacity/update-1-will-saudi-boost-oil-capacity-naimis-retort-show-me-10-pct-return-idUKL5N0YR0Y820150605
 For additional discussion of the IEA’s oil security program (including the role of spare production capacity), see https://www.iea.org/areas-of-work/ensuring-energy-security/oil-security. Countries including China and India maintain strategic stockpiles but are not part of the IEA and its cooperative programs.
 See Ghaida Ghantous and Maha El Dahan, “Saudi crown prince says unrealistic energy policies will lead to higher inflation,” Reuters, July 16, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/saudi-crown-prince-says-unrealistic-energy-policies-will-lead-inflation-2022-07-16/.
 See Rania El Gamal, “Will Saudi boost,” Reuters.
 David Long, The United States and Saudi Arabia: Ambivalent Allies (London: Routledge, 2019 edition), p.62.
 Rachel Bronson, “Understanding US-Saudi Relations,” in Paul Aarts and Gerd Nonneman (eds.), Saudi Arabia in the Balance: Political Economy, Society, Foreign Affairs (London: Hurst & Co., 2005), pp.385-86.
 Gabriel Collins and Jim Krane, “The Carter Doctrine 3.0: The New Gulf-Asia-US Oil Security Nexus,” Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy, July 2017, https://www.bakerinstitute.org/files/12601/.
 Steve Holland and Rania El Gamal, “Trump Says He Does Not Want War after Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities,” Reuters, September 16, 2019. See also Jim Krane and Mark Finley, “The U.S. Response to Attacks on Persian Gulf Oil Infrastructure and Strategic Implications for Petro-States,” Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, Oct. 29, 2019, https://www.bakerinstitute.org/research/us-response-attacks-persian-gulf-oil-infrastructure.
 David Roberts, “For Decades, Gulf Leaders Counted on U.S. Protection. Here’s What Changed,” Washington Post, January 30, 2020.
 Andrew Parasiliti, “Djerejian: In Addressing Uprisings in Middle East, First ‘Do No Harm,’” Al-Monitor, November 18, 2019.
 See, for example, Peter Salisbury, “Risk Perception and Appetite in UAE Foreign and National Security Policy,” Chatham House research paper, 2020, p.32.
 Soviet recognition of the new kingdom came in 1932, the same year that the future King Faisal led a Saudi delegation on a three-day visit to Moscow. See Joseph Kechichian, Faysal: Saudi Arabia’s King for all Seasons (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008), pp.35-36.
 Yury Barmin, “How Moscow Lost Riyadh in 1938,” Al Jazeera, October 15, 2017.
 David Ottaway, “Saudis, Soviets to Restore Relations Within Days,” Washington Post, September 16, 1990.
 Ibrahim Almuhanna, Oil Leaders: An Insider’s Account of Four Decades of Saudi Arabia and OPEC’s Global Energy Policy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2022), p.195.
 Jonathan Fulton, “Strangers to Strategic Partners: Thirty Years of Sino-Saudi Relations,” Atlantic Council, Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative paper, 2020, p.5.
 Mark Katz, “Saudi-Russian Relations: 1979-2009,” Middle East Institute, October 1, 2009.
 See “Oil prices rise,” CNN Money, November 9, 2001, https://money.cnn.com/2001/11/09/markets/oil/
 Khaled Al-Maeena, “Abdullah Hails Historic Day,” Arab News, September 3, 2003; Associated Press, “Putin Visits Saudi Arabia,” February 11, 2007.
 Indrajit Sen, “Lukoil Quits Aramco JV Project in Saudi Arabia,” Oil & Gas, June 22, 2016.
 “Prospects for Enhanced U.S.-Saudi Nuclear Energy Cooperation,” Congressional Research Service, February 12, 2020, p.1.
 In addition to serving as crown prince (since June 2017) and prime minister (since September 2022), Mohammed bin Salman chairs the Council on Political and Security Affairs and the Council on Economic and Development Affairs in the Saudi cabinet as well as the Supreme Council for Saudi Aramco and the Board of Governors of the Public Investment Fund, giving him ultimate control over oil and investment decision-making. In addition, Mohammed bin Salman’s younger full brother, Prince Khalid bin Salman, serves as the defense minister, and an older half-brother, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, serves as minister of energy.
 Bruce Riedel, “Saudi’s Star Prince Keeps Rising, Visits Putin in St. Petersburg,” Brookings, June 19, 2015.
 Reem Shamseddine, “Saudi Arabia, Russia to Set Up $1 Billion Energy Fund: Novak,” Reuters, October 2, 2017.
 Salman’s last trip outside Saudi Arabia, just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, was to Oman. Mohammed bin Salman visited the United States on a three-week multi-city tour in March and April 2018 that took the crown prince to New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and Houston in addition to Washington, D.C. This remains Mohammed bin Salman’s most recent trip to the U.S.
 Almuhanna, Oil Leaders, p.205.
 Saeed Azhar, “Russian Sovereign Fund Opens Office in Saudi,” Reuters, October 9, 2019.
 Robert Mogielnicki, “Oil Price War Tests Saudi-Russian Investment Cooperation,” Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, April 3, 2020.
 Rory Jones, “Ukraine War Sanctions Hit Middle East Sovereign-Wealth Funds’ Russia Bets,” Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2022.
 “‘Balanced, thoughtful’: Russia praises OPEC for production cut,” Al Jazeera, Oct. 9, 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/10/9/americas-mayhem-kremlin-praises-opec-for-cutting-production.
 “Petroleum Overview.”US Energy Information Administration, https://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly/pdf/sec3_3.pdf.
 Charles L. Glaser and Rosemary A. Kelanic, “Getting Out of the Gulf: Oil and US Military Strategy,” Foreign Affairs 96, no. 1 (February 2017): 122–31.
 US-OPEC oil market interplay is discussed in Jim Krane and Mark Finley, “A US-Saudi Oil Alliance? Here’s Why That’s Insane,” Baker Institute blog, March 30, 2020, https://blog.bakerinstitute.org/2020/03/30/a-u-s-saudi-oil-alliance-heres-why-thats-insane/.
 President Barack Obama apparently benefited from a well-timed increase in Saudi production. See Ibrahim AlMuhanna, Oil Leaders: An Insider’s Account of Four Decades of Saudi Arabia and OPEC’s Global Energy Policy, Center on Global Energy Policy Series (New York: Columbia University Press, 2022).
 For a discussion of the importance of shale investors in governing global oil supply—along with OPEC—see Mark Finley, “Crude For Thought: Are More Prisoners And More Guards Setting Up The Next Oil Price Cycle?,” Baker Institute blog, June 28, 2021,” https://www.forbes.com/sites/thebakersinstitute/2021/06/28/crude-for-thought-are-more-prisoners-and-more-guards-setting-up-the-next-oil-price-cycle/?sh=4dea6d37895b.
 The Commission on America’s National Interests, “America’s National Interests” (Cambridge, Mass.: Belfer Center, Harvard University, July 2000), http://www.belfercenter.org/sites/default/files/legacy/files/amernatinter.doc.
 Robert McNally, Crude Volatility: The History and the Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017), p. 157.
 Alan Munro, An Arabian Affair: Politics and Diplomacy Behind the Gulf War (London: Brassey’s, 1996), pp.142-43.
 Summer Said, Benoit Faucon, Dion Nissenbaum, and Stephen Kalin, “Saudi Arabia Defied U.S. Warnings Ahead of OPEC+ Production Cut,” Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2022.
 Zoltan Barany, “The Formative Moments That Shaped the Gulf Arab Militaries,” The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, issue paper no. 3, 2020, p.16.
 For recent data on how rising prices at the pump correlate with a decline in the president’s approval rating, see Anna Mikulska and Mark Finley, “Energy Transition, Energy Security, and Affordable Fuel: How the Energy Crisis Can Help Policymakers 'Thread the Needle,” Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, August 2002, p. 7, https://www.bakerinstitute.org/research/energy-transition-energy-security-and-affordable-fuel-how-the-energy-crisis-can-help-policymakers-th.
 OPEC Secretariat: Statement of the 33rd OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting, October 5, 2022, https://www.opec.org/opec_web/en/press_room/7021.htm
 “Country Brief: Saudi Arabia,” UNCTADStat, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2022, https://unctadstat.unctad.org/countryprofile/generalprofile/en-gb/682/index.html .
 “Merchandise: Total trade,” UNCTADStat, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, 2022.
 Rory Jones, Summer Said, and Stephen Kalin, “Saudi Crown Prince’s Vision for Neom, a Desert City-State, Tests His Builders,” Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2021.
 Stephen Kalin, “Saudi Arabia Agrees to Buy Russian S-400 Air Defense System: Arabiya TV,” Reuters, October 5, 2017.
 Agnes Helou, “Saudi Industry to Produce THAAD Air Defense Subsystems,” Defense News, March 10, 2022.
 US Department of State, “US Relations with Saudi Arabia,” May 11, 2022. https://www.state.gov/u-s-relations-with-saudi-arabia/
 See US Energy Information Administration country analysis briefs on China and India: https://www.eia.gov/international/overview/world?pd=44&p=00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000024&u=0&f=A&v=mapbubble&a=-&i=none&vo=value&t=C&g=none&l=249--106&s=315532800000&e=1546300800000.
 See Mark Finley, “Is Saudi Arabia Quietly Trying to Help Europe's Oil Consumers?” Baker Institute blog, May 2022, https://www.bakerinstitute.org/research/is-saudi-arabia-quietly-trying-to-help-europes-oil-consumers.
 See for example, “Russia is China's top oil supplier for 3rd mth in July—customs data,”
Reuters, Aug. 21, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/russia-is-chinas-top-oil-supplier-3rd-mth-july-customs-data-2022-08-20/; and “Saudi overtakes Russia to be India's No. 2 oil supplier in August,” Reuters,
September 15, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/saudi-overtakes-russia-be-indias-no-2-oil-supplier-august-2022-09-15/.
 “Saudi Arabia, Russia sign nuclear power cooperation deal,” Reuters, June 19, 2015, https://www.reuters.com/article/saudi-russia-nuclear/saudi-arabia-russia-sign-nuclear-power-cooperation-deal-idUSL5N0Z516320150619.
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