On Tuesday, Kremlin-backed forces intensified the vacuum left by the US in northern Syria. According to a statement by the Russian Ministry of Defense published on its website, Russian military police units patrolled the line of contact between Syrian and Turkish forces, while troops supported by Putin of Bashar al-Assad gained complete control over the city of Manbij and the surrounding areas.
Against this background, Putin toured the capitals of two major Gulf states ̵
In Saudi Arabia – one of America's closest allies – the Russian President was warmly received on his first visit to the kingdom for more than ten years. The Kremlin called it a "return visit" after Saudis King Salman visited Moscow in 2017 to expand relations with key oil producers.
This is a "natural partnership," a Russian official told me before the state visit this week. The "largest oil exporters in the world working together to stabilize the markets".
However, the importance of this burgeoning Russian-Saudi friendship should not be underestimated or limited only to talks about oil.
After the meeting, King Salman said he values "Russia's effective role in the region and around the world," as it is said by Saudi state media.
The statement underlines that this state visit was a well-planned diplomatic coup that put Putin at the center of the region's geopolitics.
Putin insisted on it all the time.
But the warmth of Saudi's embrace of Saudi Arabia can also be seen as a warning to the United Kingdom from the United Kingdom.
The criticism of US lawmakers of Saudi behavior is increasing, as the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, which accused the kingdom of rogue activists.
There is also concern that the forces led by Saudi Arabia allegedly acted against Houthi rebels in Yemen, which the Kingdom denies. The US Congress even tried to stop arms sales on which Saudi Arabia depended.
Criticism and concern about US involvement in the region is forcing Saudi Arabia to look elsewhere, perhaps for more reliable and less valiant friends.
The "days of a single strategic partner for the kingdom," a senior Saudi official told me, "are already over."
And just like in northern Syria, Russia is ready and willing to join.