Saturday, April 13

Russia, Algeria’s ally

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has marked a before and after on the global board. For now there is more uncertainty than certainty about the possible consequences of the conflict in the complex network of Kremlin alliances: “Many very profound changes are happening and it is still hard for us to glimpse all the consequences,” says Laurence Thieux, professor of International Relations at the Complutense University of Madrid. “It is difficult to see how the alliances will be in the near future, but today, everything that is touched by Russia is weakened against the United States and the European Union,” says Antonio Alonso, professor of International Relations at the University San Pablo CEU.

Algiers has historically been one of Moscow’s most important allies in the Maghreb. An alliance that began to be woven at the time of the Soviet Union and the Algerian war of independence. Currently, both countries are Europe’s main source of gas. “Algeria’s alliance with Russia has been getting stronger and stronger in recent years,” Alonso defends.

The RRecent support from the Spanish government for the Moroccan autonomy plan for Western Sahara has bothered Algeria, the main ally of the Polisario Front. This discomfort has translated into uncertainty about whether in the future this can translate into some type of consequences. in the supply of gas to Spain. So far, the Algerian government has not announced any retaliation beyond calling its ambassador in Madrid for consultations and expressing its “surprise” at the “sudden change in the Spanish position.”

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“For decades, Algeria has been a reliable supplier of gas for Spain,” writes the Algerian media TSA on Monday in the article titled Algeria disappointed by the “ingratitude” of Spain. “Turning your back abruptly on a historically and geographically close and economically reliable neighbor is an act that is difficult to understand,” the text concludes.

Abstention at the UN

Algeria abstained in the votion in early March at the United Nations to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a position also taken by other Moscow partners. “Algeria and other African countries are trying to maintain a certain ambiguity because they obviously have relations with Russia, but they do not want to close doors to other alliances,” explains Thieux. The expert adds that “these are territories that have many internal difficulties, which are going to increase with the rise in the price of food, the dependency they have is also very great”.

Since the start of the offensive in Ukraine and the rise in gas prices, Europe and especially Spain have looked to Algeria, the North African country has historically been a “reliable and serious partner” in the supply of this hydrocarbon, according to analysts. “Algeria is interested in showing that it can be an alternative to Russian gas, although its supply capacity is quite limited,” says Thieux.

Russian military cooperation in Algeria

“The area where relations are closest is logically that of defense and the purchase of arms by Algeria, approximately 80% comes from Russia”, points out Rafael Bustos, professor of international relations at the Complutense University of Madrid. A diplomatic bridge that also contemplates “military training, joint maneuvers”, the expert remarks. Trade and energy are two other weighty points in this alliance.

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In the last decade, Russia has moved closer to North Africa and the Mediterranean, but influence does not stop in Algiers. Moscow has become involved in the conflict in Libya and has shown good harmony with the Egyptian authorities, Morocco also maintains commercial relations with Russia. Rabat also decided not to participate in the vote at the United Nations to condemn the Russian invasion.

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“Since ten years ago Russia’s influence in the entire Mediterranean environment has increased”, Alonso explains, pointing to the historical moment that opened after the Arab springs of 2012 and the progressive withdrawal of the United States from the main war scenes in the Middle East as the main reason. “From that moment on, Russia took the opportunity to increase its influence.”

Russia closely followed all the riots in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East and “in the territories where the Arab spring seems to have failed, Russia has entered with force as an alternative to the United States and to break the isolationism in the that some countries were found to be not democratic, as they understand European standards”, remarks Alonso, who gives Egypt or Algeria as an example.

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