President Petro Poroshenko continues to travel around the world. On Tuesday, the fate of the head of Ukraine brought its over four thousand kilometers from Kiev, the capital of Saudi Arabia — Riyadh.
Here he began his two-day (from October 31 to November 1) official visit. In the course of which, according to the presidential press service, the Ukrainian leader will hold talks with king Salman bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud, crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman al Saud and the Minister of energy, industry and mineral resources of the Kingdom Khalid bin Abdul-Aziz al Valicom.
Topics of discussion reportedly will be the issues of bilateral investment, trade-economic and military-technical cooperation.
Poroshenko trip to Persian Gulf countries will conclude on Thursday, November 2, a work visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he is expected to meet with crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme commander of the Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nagano, as well as Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Minister of defense Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al Maktoum.
It is planned to discuss issues of bilateral cooperation in various spheres, including political, investment, security.
In the official release of the press service Poroshenko says nothing about whether meetings with Eastern monarchs to raise the issue of «Russian aggression against Ukraine.» But knowing the «favorite horse» Peter, we can assume that this time without loud statements on this account he will not do.
However, Poroshenko trip to the Arabian Peninsula, may be more interesting in the context of past contacts Donald trump in Riyadh — recall that in the course of the may visit of the American President to Saudi Arabia, the parties signed the largest-ever U.S. defense contract worth almost 110 billion.
In the context of the recent meeting in Moscow of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the head of the Saudi ruling dynasty, king Salman bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud, which ended with the signing of several economic and military agreements, including the establishment of a joint investment Fund in the amount of one billion dollars and the purchase of Russian missile systems s-400 «Triumph».
Question, how and to what extent the two richest countries in the Persian Gulf might be interested in Ukraine?
— There is an understandable interest from both sides can be, says the prospects of East Poroshenko’s visit a political scientist-orientalist Konstantin Dudarev. — Ukraine, in General, support relationships are primarily economic, with the Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia. In particular, Saudi Arabia, as far as I know, for several years, buys the grain in the Ukraine and some other agricultural products.
It is the interest, so to speak, Riyadh. Furthermore, as with any European country, it is natural to maintain a normal relationship, from the point of view of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
As for Ukraine, it is of interest, then, of course, is a country in need of Finance. And in energy — in oil and gas, primarily. In Saudi Arabia gas is not for sale. But there are oil and oil products, which is necessary for Ukraine. In the UAE, for example, is oil and gas. Qatar has gas. And they are ready to put it all.
So I see that kind of interest from Ukraine to the countries of the Persian Gulf. And then to oppose, probably not worth it: that the king was recently at us, and suddenly takes Poroshenko.
Here everything is much more complicated. We know that Iran is a serious geopolitical adversary, Saudi Arabia. But we have a good relationship with him, which develop. But Qatar is part of the family of the Persian Gulf countries, however, Riyadh is now strongly opposed to the Qatari authorities. And Russia, on the contrary, the relationship with Doha intensified.
Therefore, the visit of the President of Ukraine, nothing sensational I do not see.
«SP»: — But we also sell grain for export. Will not be whether Kyiv is our direct competitor, to dump?
— I think not. Although, of course, up to the Saudi leadership. Actually, I think this is a rather large grain market for exporters from Russia and Ukraine.
The fact that the program of food security of Saudi Arabia provides for the rejection of the cultivation of grain inside the country. Because it is much more expensive than buying abroad.
Before they were grown varieties of durum wheat, but when I calculated the costs, acknowledged this practice is absolutely inappropriate. Now implements the program, adopted under the previous king Abdullah, which provides for the establishment of joint ventures abroad in countries with favourable agricultural climate. With a guarantee that a portion of the crop (depending on the conditions which will be signed) will be exported to Saudi Arabia. In this respect, Russia is, of course, a huge opportunity.
But it is quite natural that such enterprises may be established in Ukraine.
«SP»: — Ukrainian media previously reported that some businessmen from Saudi Arabia is ready to invest ten billion in the agricultural sector of Ukraine… is It possible?
I can’t confirm. But they may, perhaps, if it signed a contract to buy some land for growing grain or other crops. This is normal. This is not unusual and sensational.
Co-chair of the «Committee of rescue of Ukraine», the famous Ukrainian politician Volodymyr Oliynyk, on the contrary, is adjusted rather skeptically:
— When Poroshenko said on mutual investment projects, just want to ask: what can poor Ukraine to invest in Saudi Arabia? What kind of money they can invest in the economy of this rich country of the Persian Gulf?
Maybe Poroshenko will ask for permission to build a factory «Roshen»? Not ruling it out. The money he has. Personal wealth continues to grow. Today, he is the fifth richest man in Ukraine. We need somewhere to invest…
This topic can be discussed.
With regard to the interest of Saudi Arabia, they have long discussed the question: either sell the land or give it on lease. What? Labor, in fact, free — the cost will be pennies. And the products will be supplied to Saudi Arabia.
There are, however, requirements specific to this product. Clearly, it is not pork, of course… But in this case there is interest.
The more that agriculture is very profitable because the turnover of capital, actually, it’s six months. Invested, six months later got the result. If anything, turned and left. Only now have to invest in a country where there is civil war.
«SP»: — And here may be the weapons of interest to arise. Announced meeting Poroshenko with the Ministers of defence of both countries…
— What Poroshenko has to offer? Soviet equipment, which is abundant on the world market, formal and black? Why do they need it?
Ukraine does not have s-400, offered by Russia, and no aircraft of the latest generation. It has nothing to offer. Might ask, of course, something to sell… But why would Saudi Arabia to spoil relations with Russia, with its new strategic partner?
Therefore, in this case, it’s a «tourist» visit of Poroshenko. Probably with the aim to push some of his interests. Not ruling it out.
«SP»: — what about the Ukrainian-Saudi Arabian project on the development of a light multipurpose transport aircraft on the basis of ANTK «Antonov», which is due to be deployed in the middle Eastern country? The prototype, like has already been presented in Le Bourget this summer?
— Cooperation with «Antonov» many foreigners showed interest. The Chinese, by the way, too. But interest waned quickly when they examined the situation and found out that aircraft manufacturers took the money under the order of Kazakhstan for not yet released the plane.
What to talk about? The factory is mass production. And you for two or three years of one plane show as an achievement, and working your run. Go to another segment of the business, or going abroad to work. You lose qualified professionals, and this unique production, it is impossible to take any and guarantee the quality.
I don’t see this project as each considers his own way the future of «Antonov» in Ukraine. Some, for example, look at the enterprise just like the site for construction of residential houses. Why do they need the Antonov? Their goal is to build «boxes» to sell faster and make a profit.
Well, let’s see: Russia has agreed, for example, the construction of a plant for the production of the AKM in Saudi Arabia. It is clear that there is production, there is technology, there is an opportunity not only to build but also to train personnel on the spot.
And Ukraine can offer the construction of such a plant in Saudi Arabia? No.
To invest today in a country that is on the verge of splitting in fact, it must be absolutely insane. Indeed, many countries are considering some projects strategically, from the point of view of the perspective, not one or two years, and for ten or fifteen or twenty years.
Why Europe, despite the pressure, consented to the construction of «Nord stream-2» and slowly pushes the volume of flow? Cheaper. And besides, if tomorrow Ukraine into three parts disintegrate, and each will have to negotiate. It may lose its transit possibilities.
Or, why China was not invited in the spring of Ukraine for discussion on the New silk road project? Belarus were Russia was. But Ukraine was not. They looked: troubled times have come to Ukraine. Why invest money, then to regret?
Therefore, Saudi Arabia will look at the behavior of other players. Here the Americans put money? No. The United States invested in Ukraine last year only 500 million dollars. Russia — for more than four billion.
«SP»: — Means for Poroshenko the visit — again, trouble in vain?
— Well, perhaps he is flattered that he would take the richest monarchs of the Gulf. They sit down, talk. But believe me, after that you will not see any contract. And just talk about intentions.
Poroshenko will «sell», e.g. «threat of Russia». Be persuaded that his country is ready for investment. Yes, we are. First place for corruption and all the negative parameters.
In my opinion, it’s just an attempt Vinnitsa «specific boys» to «dissolve» the sheikhs for money.