Algeria and Russia held a four-day joint naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea the North African country's defence ministry announced last week.
Russian warships docked in the port of Algiers on Tuesday to take part in the drill, according to a written statement. "The exercises aim to exchange experiences between the Algerian naval forces and their Russian counterparts, as well as to develop operational capabilities and joint interaction in the areas of maritime security," the statement said.
The arrival of the Russian fleet also comes ahead of the joint anti-terrorist exercises dubbed "Desert Shield 2022" scheduled for next month, which will be held in Algeria's desert for the first time. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said last month that the upcoming exercises are not directed against a particular third party and will involve preparation for the search, detection and destruction of illegal armed groups.
Defence and military ties between Algiers and Moscow go back decades; since the Soviet Union. The recent drills are part of a series of joint military exercises launched in 2017. Last month, a Russian minesweeper docked at the Algerian port of Jijel to take part in joint exercises with the Algerian navy. In July, the Black Sea Fleet reconnaissance ship Kildin and the small sea tanker Vice-Admiral Paromov entered the port of Algiers on a three-day visit, according to Russian media.
Algeria's growing ties with Russia has alarmed Western governments amid efforts to isolate and sanction Moscow over its war in Ukraine. Last month a group of bipartisan US lawmakers sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling for sanctions against officials in the Algerian government over an arms deal with Moscow last year reportedly worth over $7 billion and which would see Algeria acquire Su-57 fighter jets and air defence systems.
"This recent Algeria-Russia arms purchase would clearly be categorized as 'a significant transaction' under CAATSA [Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act]. Yet, no sanctions available to you have been crafted by the State Department," the letter, which was signed by 27 members of Congress, stated.
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