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Behind the Russia-Saudi Breakup, Calculations and Miscalculations

Putin and bin Salman at the G20 summit It was a marriage of convenience based on oil. When it came apart, it sent the markets reeling.

Moscow, March 10.– It was always a marriage of convenience, whatever the pledges of devotion, but when Russia and Saudi Arabia parted ways late last week after a dispute over oil production, it was like a lot of breakups: instantly acrimonious.

Gone, it seems, are the days when two of the world’s strongest-willed leaders, Vladimir V. Putin and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, engaged in an unlikely courtship to prop up oil prices and extend their influence. Only six months ago, the Saudi energy minister called it an “until death do us part” union.

With oil prices plunging and Russian state television blaming Saudi Arabia for the collapse of the ruble, the kingdom on Tuesday signaled what seemed to be an escalation.

Saudi Aramco, the national oil company, said that on April 1 it would start providing customers with 12.3 million barrels a day. That is a 26 percent increase on its output before the deal with Russia collapsed.

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