MOSCOW – Russia is committed to developing bilateral cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the sphere of industry and defense, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday.
“We are committed to the progressive development of bilateral cooperation across the range of issues of interest in the military and defense industry,” Shoigu said during a meeting with Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman Al Saud.
The meeting between the ministers took place during the International Security Conference (MCIS) in Moscow.
Shoigu noted that good bilateral relations at the highest level contribute to a constructive dialogue between the two ministries.
The annual MCIS, organized by the Russian Ministry of Defense since 2012, will last until April 25 and will focus mainly on the main issues of international security.
This comes as Saudi Arabia executed 37 of its citizens, mostly Shi’ites, on Tuesday after they were convicted of “terrorism” in the kingdom, which is one of the leading executioners in the world.
The sentences were carried out in Riyadh, in the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the central province of Qassim and the eastern province, home to the country’s Shi’ite minority.
The men were executed “for adopting terrorist and extremist thinking and for forming terrorist cells to corrupt and destabilize security,” said a statement released by the Saudi news agency.
The note said that a person was crucified after his execution, a punishment reserved for particularly serious crimes.
As a rule, executions in the ultraconservative realm are usually performed by decapitation.
At least 100 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the year, according to a count based on official data released by the SPA.
Last year, the oil-rich Gulf state has served the death penalty of 149 people, according to Amnesty International, who said only Iran is known to have executed more people.
Rights experts have repeatedly raised concerns about the fairness of the trials in Saudi Arabia, ruled under a strict Islamic law.
People convicted of terrorism, homicide, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking face the death penalty, which, according to the government, is a deterrent to new crimes.
This does not even take into account the gross human right violations Saudi Arabia is committing against Yemen, a country literally being starved.
Moscow and Riyadh help to maintain security in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
“I would like to say that relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia are very significant. Cooperation between our countries serves the interests of the whole region, as well as promotes peace in the Middle East and contributes to security worldwide,” declared Al Saud.
The deputy minister of Riyadh took the opportunity to convey to the Russian politician the greetings of the king of Saudi Arabia.
“We intend to continue our cooperation at all levels and in all areas: political, economic and military,” he added.
“We hope that this meeting will be productive and contribute to the realization of the agendas of both countries,” concluded the Saudi deputy minister, who is also the younger brother of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Russia has until now, been more or less openly collaborating with Saudi Arabia in the spheres of oil price control, and the politics of North Africa including Egypt.
Taken together with Russia’s media holographic efforts to push Pakistan into a friendly position, it leads to questions regarding how this fits into Russia’s general efforts to contain Al Qaeda and radical Salafist terrorism.