In need of allies and with deteriorating relations with neighbors, Algeria’s relations with Russia are firm and potentially deepening following multiple military-diplomatic visits from Russia. Russia–Algeria links “are reaching a new level,” according to statements Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently made to the Russian media outlet RT Arabic. A new strategic cooperation document is being drafted to replace the 2001 agreement that currently guides bilateral relations. According to the excerpted article from influential Saudi daily al-Sharq al-Awsat, Algeria plans to hold joint military exercises with Russia in November. In early June, the new director of Algeria’s Advanced Warfighting School led a group of officers on a tour of General Staff colleges in Russia. Deepening Russian–Algerian relations may reflect an emerging strategic alignment that could turn the western Mediterranean into a new flashpoint in the brewing conflict between Russia and NATO.
This is all against the backdrop of Algeria’s perceived threats from Morocco and Spain. Both Algeria and Morocco have taken steps to reinforce military presence a long their shared border in recent months. Earlier this year, the Moroccan military established a new “eastern military zone” along its border with Algeria. More recently, as reported in the Qatari-aligned al-Araby al-Jadid, the Algerian military conducted nighttime joint maneuvers and set up a new base near the oasis town of Tindouf, where the borders of Algeria, Morocco and the disputed Western Sahara converge. Tindouf is home to the largest concentration of Western Saharan (Sahrawi) refugees, and a key center of gravity for the Polisario Front, Western Sahara’s pro-independence movement.
In early June, Algeria downgraded its political relations with Spain in response to Spanish recognition of Moroccan claims on the Western Sahara earlier this year. The Algerian government is threatening a near-total trade embargo with Spain, from which only natural gas exports would be excepted. It has also threatened to shut off the remaining pipeline that carries Algerian gas to Spain. Stopping the flow of Algerian gas to Spain would leave Italy as the only European country with pipelines bringing in Algerian natural gas. Algeria’s diplomatic rupture with Spain also includes suspending cooperation on migration. Given the Ukraine-related pressures on the EU’s eastern borders, increased immigration and decreased gas flows along Europe’s southern borders would undoubtedly put substantial strain on the European Union’s social and political order.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that relations between Russia and Algeria are reaching a new level…
Source: (Lavrov: Our relations with Algeria have reached a new level),” RT Arabic (Russian Arabic-language news site), 26 May 2022. https://tinyurl.com/228xnr4b
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that relations between Russia and Algeria are reaching a new level. He also emphasized the need to formalize them in a new document, the preparation of which is underway.
Source: (The Algerian army carries out maneuvers simulating night combat near the border with Morocc”),” al-Araby al-Jadid (Qatari-aligned daily), 7 June 2022. https://tinyurl.com/2cukk683
The Algerian army conduct nighttime military maneuvers with live ammunition. The exercises included various units and weapons, and the intensive use of missiles, rocket launchers and aircraft. They took place in the Tindouf region, which lies directly on the border with Morocco, not far from the disputed Sahara region between Rabat and t“e “Polisario Fro”t,” and coincided with the opening of a military base in the area.
Source: (High-level Russian official discusses military cooperation in Algeri”),” al-Sharq al-Awsat (influential Saudi daily), 17 May 2022. https://tinyurl.com/2s3jt5ms
A senior official in the Russian Federation Council held discussion with Algerian officials yesterday regarding the ongoing war in Ukraine, the development of military cooperation between the two countries, and the previously announced joint military exercises, scheduled for next November in the Algerian desert.
Source: “Students of Algerian Armed Forces Advanced Warfighting School visit Defence Universi”y,” Republic of Serbia Ministry of Defense, 6 June 2022. https://www.mod.gov.rs/eng/18878/poseta-polaznika-visoke-ratneskole-oruzanih-snaga-alzira-univerzitetu-odbrane-18878
Students attending the Algerian Peo’le’s National Armed Forces Advanced Warfighting School have visited the Defence University in Belgrade today, thus starting their study tour of the Republic of Serbia which will last for several days.