The visit to Moscow of Algeria's Chief of Staff, General Said Chengriha, is being followed-up closely by European countries and Morocco to find out more about the arms deal that Algeria is expected to sign with Russia. They are keen to know if it will include Sukhoi 57 and Sukhoi 34 aircraft, and if Algeria will be Russia's gateway to the Sahel region.
Chengriha visited Moscow last week for an international conference on security. The Algerian general pledged to engage in the Russian vision for security and peace in the world, especially in the Maghreb and the Sahel regions.
Africa Intelligence website reported yesterday about Chengriha's visit to Moscow and the potential arms deal with an estimated value of $7 billion. Algeria allegedly wants to buy two advanced Sukhoi 57 and Sukhoi 34 fighters, having previously signed a deal for 12 Sukhoi 32 jets, which is the version of the Sukhoi 34 that Russia sells. The North African state is willing to acquire the Russian version of the fighter because its multi-functional capabilities resemble classic fighters while having the qualities of a bomber/strike jet.
Algeria also seeks to acquire the Sukhoi 57, which Russia has not sold to any country so far. Such a decision from the Kremlin will not be a surprise in the event that Moscow agrees to sell limited copies of this aircraft to Algeria, which was the first country to obtain Russia's S-400 air defence system since 2014.
European countries including France, Spain and Italy, as well as Arab countries such as Morocco, are observing Algeria's efforts to boost its arsenal with concern. This perhaps stems from the growing political coordination between Moscow and Algeria and the latter's engagement with Russia's political vision of international relations, including its involvement in some conflicts.
France and Italy are currently speculating about how far Algeria-Russia coordination will go in the Sahel region, in which China and Russia are showing great interest due to its mineral resources. As a regional power, Algeria can be a major gateway for them.
Algeria is making moves in the Sahel unilaterally, without coordinating with European countries except at a basic level. However, it will need a major country to support it, which will undoubtedly be Russia, particularly in terms of satellite monitoring of what is happening in the Sahel.