A Russian warship named The Admiral Gorshkov was spotted in a port in Saudi Arabia this week, docking there for the first time since the re-establishment of diplomatic ties with Iran.
The warship was returning from South Africa to Russia when it stopped at the Jeddah port for a two-day break and refuelling, Arab News reports.
The source also reported that the ship would be making a trip to Syria for “repairs” although It is unclear what repairs the ship requires.
In the past, there have been concerns that Iran used disaster relief as a cover to smuggle weapons into Syria.
On April 5, Rear Admiral Mansour bin Saud Al-Juaid, assistant commander of the Saudi Western Fleet, and the Russian Northern Fleet's Captain Oleg Gladky held a meeting. Attendance included the Russian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sergey G. Kozlov, the Consul General of Russia in Jeddah, Yusup Abakarov, and the Permanent Representative of Russia to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Ramzan Abdulatipov.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Saudi Arabia's King Salman attend a welcoming ceremony ahead of their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia October 5, 2017. (credit: REUTERS/YURI KADOBNOV/POOL)
The warship is a 135-meter frigate and is armed with Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles, Arab News reported.
The ship previously engaged in a joint exercises with China and South Africa in the western Indian Ocean in February and a joint exercise with China and Iran in the Gulf of Oman.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to fractured global relations and a number of countries picking sides. Saudi Arabia's recent diplomatic moves have left some concern about where its future loyalties will lie.
According to the New York Times, Senator Richard Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, went so far as to say that Saudi Arabia wanted Russia to win the war in Ukraine.
“Let’s be very candid about this. It’s Putin and Saudi Arabia against the US.” US President Biden added, “There’s going to be some consequences for what they’ve done with Russia.”
Saudi Arabia and Iran have re-established diplomatic ties and Iran has been a significant military ally to Russia and has provided Russia with ballistic missiles and other weaponry.
The relationship between Saudi Arabia and the West has recently come under question. The Biden administration has in the past signaled to the Saudis that they are on their own when it comes to fighting the Houthis in Yemen. Having a Russian warship stop for a visit, reinforces concerns about about the future of Saudi-Western ties.
Eric Mandel contributed to this report.