Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has arrived in Qatar on the first-ever visit, with the signing of an intergovernmental agreement on defense industry cooperation coming shortly later.
Representatives of Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport and the Qatari Defense Ministry signed a memorandum and a framework contract in the defense sector in the presence of Shoigu and his Qatari counterpart.
Shoigu also met with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and discussed the issues of global and regional security.
Earlier, the Qatari Defense Minister, Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, announced his country’s interest in the cooperation with Russia in the defense sector, especially in modern Russian technologies. According to him, Doha wants to purchase Russian technologies for production of air defense systems.
“As far as our mutual cooperation is concerned, this is not just the purchase of air defense systems but also technologies. We would like to develop this industry and bring this technology to Qatar,” Attiyah said during a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow in August 2017.
The visit of the Russian Defense Minister comes months after Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Thani visited Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin to discuss the situation in the Middle East as well as energy issues prior to which the Qatari Foreign Minister held talks with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
Earlier this year, the Russian President held several phone conversations with the Qatari Emir, with the latest being in July, during which Putin stressed the importance of political and diplomatic efforts in normalization of situation around Doha.
Historically, Qatar used to buy US weaponry, with Doha ranking first in the world in terms of money spent on US-made weapons and military equipment in 2015.
In 2015, Qatar ranked first in the world in terms of money spent on US-made weapons and military equipment. Out of $40 billion-worth of US defense exports in that year, the latest year for which the information has been updated by the US Congressional Research Service, Qatar procured $17.5 billion in US military equipment and services.
In 2016, Qatar and the Pentagon finalized a deal to ship 36 F-15Q Eagles to the island nation for a cool $12 billion. The Obama administration had originally signed off on a deal to send 72 F-15s to Qatar last November, but the Trump administration chose to tread more lightly in implementing the agreement - leaving $9 billion on the table in the process.