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Algeria, Russia Discuss Military Cooperation

Algeria, Russia Discuss Military Cooperation

Wednesday, 18 May, 2022 - 09:15
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Algiers (Reuters)

Algeria and Russia are considering developing their military cooperation and the joint military exercises scheduled for next November in the Algerian desert.

Chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Viktor Bondarev began a three-day visit to Algeria, where he met with Speaker of the Council Salah Goudjil and members of the Defense Committee.

The National Assembly confirmed that the visit falls within the framework of activating the bilateral parliamentary cooperation protocol signed with the Russian Federal Council in 2014 and the memorandum of understanding concluded in 2010.

The statement indicated that Bondarev's agenda includes meeting with the People's National Assembly Speaker, Ibrahim Boughali, and other senior state officials.

Bondarev visited Algeria in the fall of 2018 when he was the commander of the Russian military operation in Syria.

Algerian sources reported that the officials meeting with Bondarev are interested in discussing the developments of the war in Ukraine, including efforts by Finland and Sweden to join NATO.

Moscow has threatened to deploy its forces on its borders with Finland if it joined NATO.

The sources stated that Bondarev's meetings would also address the bilateral military cooperation.

They said it is likely that the Russian official will meet with President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who returned Tuesday from a visit to Turkey.

On Sunday, Bondarev said on his Telegram channel that Finland's desire to join NATO is worrisome, not from a military point of view but a geopolitical point of view.

He said the United States "pressured" Helsinki and Stockholm to push them to join NATO.

Algeria and Russia have had strong relations in the defense and military industry since the Soviet Union.

The Algerian army is mainly equipped with Russian military weapons, and most of Algiers' arms deals were with Moscow.

A week before Bondarev's visit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held several meetings in Algeria with senior officials.

Lavrov said in a press conference that he informed Tebboune and Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra of the latest military developments in Donbas.

They also discussed various international issues and the gas issue, noting that Russia agrees with Algeria on fulfilling gas supply contracts.

Many European countries became interested in Algeria after its supply of Russian gas was interrupted at the beginning of the war.

Algeria and Italy agreed earlier this month to increase the amount of gas exported to the Euro-Mediterranean partner.

Lavrov thanked Algeria for its position and understanding of the Ukrainian crisis, describing the Arab position on the war as balanced and objective.

Algeria says that it adheres to the "principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries," military non-alignment, and prioritizing dialogue over war.

The Russian-Algerian joint exercises will be held next November and include drills against terrorism at the Bashar military base, in southwest Algeria.

The TASS news agency quoted Russian officials as saying that the "maneuvers will consist of tactical moves to search for, detect, and destroy illegal armed groups."

About 80 soldiers from the southern military region are expected to participate in the exercises.

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