Joint military exercises between the Algerian and Russian armed forces kicked off in Algeria on Wednesday and will continue until Nov. 28.
The joint anti-terrorist drills dubbed Desert Shield 2022 were launched at the Hammaguir testing ground in Bechar Province near the border with Morocco.
They involve about 200 soldiers from both countries’ counterterrorism forces.
According to observers, the drills are considered the largest since Algiers and Moscow established military cooperation during the Soviet Union.
During the exercise, the forces are scheduled to practice search, detection and elimination of terrorist groups in the desert setting.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had previously asserted that the drills are not directed against third parties and were planned beforehand, in implicit reference to Morocco and its tense relations with its eastern neighbor, with which ties have been severed since the summer of 2021.
The media office of the “Russian Southern Military District” had earlier stated that the maneuvers “are tactical and aimed at searching for, detecting and destroying illegal armed groups,” noting that they are the first on Algerian soil between the armies of the two countries.
The first joint Russian-Algerian tactical drills, held in Russia’s North Ossetia region in October 2021, involved about 200 Russian and Algerian troops, as well special equipment.
The Desert Shields exercises confirm the depth of the strategic partnership between Moscow and Algeria, Algerian Parliamentary Vice Speaker Bouteldja Allel told Sputnik on Wednesday.
He stated that the annually held military exercises are a great chance for both countries to adopt the latest methods of each other’s work.
“Algeria acquires Russian weapons on a regular basis and in large quantities,” he affirmed, adding that relations between the two countries have been and will continue to be strategic for many decades.
“The drills are also an extremely important part of the strategic cooperation between the two countries.”
He underlined the very high level of mutual communications at the level of the presidents of both countries, namely Vladimir Putin and Abdelmadjid Tebboune.
The Algerian army has a human force of approximately 465,000 soldiers, Sputnik revealed.
Algeria is becoming the world's largest importer of Russian arms. According to the Algerian press, a huge contract valued at over $11 billion is being prepared.
Sputnik described Algeria as a “strategic ally” and “friend partner” to Russia.