Prince Bandar bin Sultan and President Putin
According to Reuters, usually a pretty reliable source, Saudi Arabia offered President Putin economic incentives to scale back support for President Bashar al-Assad.
The deal was put forward by Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan at a meeting with President Putin in Russia last week.
Unconfirmed sources said the Saudis offered to buy up large amounts of Russian arms and promised gulf gas would not threaten Russia's position as a main gas supplier to Europe.
In return for what?
Although Saudi Arabia and other Sunni powers want Shiite Assad gone, Russia and Iran want him to stay put. The Saudis have a plan for stability in Syria if Assad's regime falls, but it seems the Russians aren't convinced it would work.
Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Moscow-based think tank CAST said he had no direct knowledge of the meeting but would not be surprised if a contract to supply Saudi Arabia with 150 Russian T-90 tanks were revived.
"There was an order of T-90s that was stopped for mysterious reasons and if this is a resurrection of that order, then we could suspect that the Saudis want something in return and that something could be linked to Syria" he said.
"The Saudis were elated about the outcome of the meeting" said an anonymous source.