The Russian ambassador to Algeria, Igor Belyaev, revealed that about half of the Russian weapons sold in Africa were bought by Algeria.
In an exclusive interview with the Russian news agency Sputnik, the Belyaev explained: “Algeria’s heavy demand for Russian weapons is due to many reasons, but most notably the historical link between the two countries through economic and historical relations since Algerian independence in which Russia had played an important role.”
“Russian-Algerian relations are multidimensional. Technical military cooperation between the two countries has characterized their bilateral relationship. The historical factor has also played an important role to present because Russia had many contributions before and after Algeria’s independence.”
There are other factors that have currently contributed to Algeria’s increasing interest in Russian weapons, including the situation in regions like the Middle East and Africa, where terrorism is growing in North Africa, especially in Libya, which has turned into small states controlled by armed groups, as well as the situation in the southern borders and the state of Mali.
Belyaev pointed out that the two countries share more than economic, political and cultural relations.He stressed that there is cooperation between Russia and Algeria in combating terrorism. He added that the cooperating on high-tech weapons requires both skilled personnel and political will.Algeria is one of the most important buyers of Russian weapons in the Middle East and North Africa. The most notable weapons Algeria has bought are the T-90 tanks and the S-300 air defence systems.
Belyaev also outlined Russia’s position on the matter of settling the issue of Western Sahara. He explained:
“Moscow is keen to take the position in favour of the implementation of the United Nations resolutions. Russia supports what the United Nations delegates are doing to organise the referendum in Western Sahara. It also supports the efforts of UN Secretary-General Envoy, Horst Köhler, to re-launch dialogue between Morocco and the Polisario on the settlement of the Western Sahara issue.”
Belyaev also discussed his meeting with Algerian president President Bouteflika. He said, “the Algerian president regularly receives senior foreign guests and heads the meetings of the Algerian government. As for me, I had a meeting with the Algerian president at the end of January when President Bouteflika received a delegation from Russia headed by Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev. I attended the meeting between the Algerian president and the head of the Russian delegation, which lasted about an hour and discussed the regional situation and bilateral relations. The meeting was cordial. The Algerian president concluded it by warmly holding our hands.”
Belyaev also said that Algeria’s delegation to Industrial Trade Fair (INNOPROM) – 2018 in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg was successful. He said that the Algerian delegation, which included heads of governmental companies, businessmen and leaders of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, had not only seen the exhibits, but also had many important meetings with representatives of Russia. He expressed his hope that these meetings would be beneficial for the development of trade, economic and scientific cooperation between the two countries.
Belyaev went on:
“Algeria is currently making efforts to diversify its economy. Russia is also diversifying sources of income from diverse fields. We can cooperate in this field, as we can establish joint industrial enterprises to produce machinery and equipment, especially agricultural machinery. Another field of cooperation is the geological mineral exploration as well as modernisation of the economic projects implemented in the time of the Soviet Union.”
The ambassador also revealed that some estimates indicate that Algeria may have the third largest gas and shale oil reserves in the world. He further explained Russia’s interest in Algerian oil. “Russian companies can participate with other foreign companies in the investment of gas and shale oil fields in case the Algerian leadership decided to do so, according to representatives of the Algerian leadership.”
He added that cooperation between Gazprom and Sonatrach has developed and that the Algerian government is preparing a new law on hydrocarbons. He expected that after its issuance by the end of this year, this law would give further impetus to cooperation in the field of energy.