Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, has defended the extraordinary fraternal greetings between Russian Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the just concluded G20 world leaders’ summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The spokesman made the defence when asked about a “high-five” between Putin and the Saudi crown prince.
Peskov replied that “good personal relations are the basis for effective bilateral cooperation”.
He also said that Russia is interested in continuing relations with the OPEC and non-OPEC group of oil producers.
Salman and Putin exchanged a high-five and laughed heartily together on Friday as they took seats next to each other at a plenary session of the Group of 20 summit.
Putin’s friendly behavior toward the crown prince contrasted sharply with that of other leaders at the Buenos Aires summit, amid suspicions of his possible involvement in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
Saudi Arabia has said the prince had no prior knowledge of the murder, which has sorely tested the kingdom’s relations with the U.S., other Western nations and Turkey.
However, Prince Mohammed was sidelined during the official “family photo” of world leaders at Friday’s gathering and was largely ignored.
He quickly exited the stage without shaking hands or talking with the other leaders.
Russia has refrained from criticising Saudi Arabia or the crown prince over the killing.
Putin said in October he lacked information about the matter and said Russia would not tear up its relations with Saudi Arabia because of it.
However, Moscow has also fostered strong ties with Saudi Arabia’s regional arch foe Iran.
Russia and Iran back President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war, while Saudi Arabia along with Western countries have backed some rebel groups.