Saudi Arabia has offered Russia economic incentives including a major arms deal and a pledge not to challenge Russian gas sales if Moscow scales back support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Middle East sources and Western diplomats said on Wednesday.
The proposed deal between two of the leading power brokers in Syria’s devastating civil war was set out by Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week, they said.
Russia has supported Assad with arms and diplomatic cover throughout the war and any change in Moscow’s stance would remove a major obstacle to action on Syria by the United Nations Security Council.
In return for their offerings, Saudi Arabia is reportedly asking for guarantees that Russia would not block any future UN Security Council resolution(s) regarding Syria. Prince Bandar is also believed to have offered to purchase up to $15 billion in weaponry from the Russian government in an effort to sweeten the deal.