You can conduct diplomacy in many different ways and Russia has its own definition of how to do it.
Putin has a handful of tools in his tool box to put pressure on other nations. Not many doesn’t mean not efficient. He has oil, gas, secret services conducting their operations boht covered and in public, using the Internet, and last but not least weapons. As mentioned many times on this blog, selling a weapons worth millions of dollars which will serve for decades gives you leverage and strong bonds. The recent strike on Saudi Aramco installations has pushed yet another offer of Putin to sell his beloved, and probably very capable system, the S-400. It is not the first time when Russia is trying to use crisis situations to step into the game. In this particular case it will probably fail as the talks about it are ongoing or “almost” finished but we can’t be certain. On the other the example of Turkey shows us that its better not to make bold statements about probability of certain things. One is certain – the S-400 is still on the rise as I wrote back in 2017 and there are other states in the region looking at it.
Leaving that aside, Russia can make great deals on the export version of its main air defense shield, selling it even to opposing countries. China already has those systems and is training to us them as efficiently as it gets while India is on the last straight to acquire them. If this isn’t a great deal than what is? Russia is arming both sides of a potential conflict selling them not only fighter jets of the same kind (Su-27) but also air defense systems.
The question that should be asked is how to counter such moves? After many, many years of stagnancy Russia is yet again starting to play an increasingly important role in the world. Is this for real or are those kind of moves the last hurrah of an empire that is gradually fading?