Although the Western Mainstream Media made much ado about him being placed at the far end of the so-called ‘family photo', MBS nevertheless avoided the tongue-lashing that many had been preconditioned to expect him to receive during the summit. The closest that he came to this was French President Macron scolding him for "never listening" to his advice, which prompted MBS to literally laugh in his face and completely reverse the power dynamic between the two leaders.
Apart from that interaction, everything else went off without a hitch for the Crown Prince. In fact, far from being the proverbial ‘black sheep', MBS was warmly embraced by none other than President Putin himself, who gave the young leader an unprecedentedly enthusiastic welcome with an informal handshake of sorts that has since gone viral. Known for his strict adherence to protocol and keeping up appearances, President Putin evidently couldn't contain his delight at seeing the Crown Prince and was thus captured in his now-famous candid moment. It makes perfect sense why he was so happy to see him because their two countries cooperate real closely through the OPEC+ format and are also deepening their military ties with one another too.
Another relevant point is that the Russian leader is planning to reciprocate the Saudi King's historic trip to Moscow in 2017 by paying a visit to Riyadh sometime next year, the official dates of which are still being worked out, so it's natural that President Putin would want to make the best possible impression to MBS in the run-up to the upcoming summit. MBS might no longer be in the West's good graces, but after what was on full display for the entire world during the G20, it's evident that he can depend on his Russian friend during his time of need because Moscow won't judge him after the West's unsubstantiated allegations related to the Khashoggi case.
Whereas the West tried to destroy his international reputation, Russia's trying to rehabilitate it, though President Putin can only do so much as long as MBS continues to wage the War on Yemen.
Andrew Korybko is joined by Ali Syed, Political analyst based in Belgium and Vladimir Rodzianko, Managing director at The Duran.
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