An Overview of Russia-Algeria Military Cooperation

SIPRI's latest report on trends in international arms transfers in 2019 states that Algeria was the third on the list Russia's top arms clients between 2015-2019. The North African country is only the second after Egypt in military power in Africa. In 2015–19 Russia delivered major arms to 47 states. A total of 55 per cent of its arms exports went to its three main recipients: India, China and Algeria.

"North Africa accounted for 74 per cent of African arms imports in 2015–19. Algeria alone accounted for 79 per cent of North African arms imports. Algeria’s arms imports were up by 71 per cent on 2010–14, making it the sixth-largest arms importer in the world in 2015–19. The increase occurred in the context of Algeria’s long-standing tensions with Morocco, internal tensions and concerns about the conflicts in neighbouring Mali and Libya (see box 1). As in 2010–14, Russia remained the largest arms supplier to Algeria in 2015–19, accounting for 67 per cent of Algerian arms imports, followed by China (13 per cent) and Germany (11 per cent)." - SIPRI

"Relationship between Algeria and the USSR started even before Algeria got independence. In 1959, when the war of independence was in its pride, Moscow made decision and trained some hundreds of young officers of the National Liberation Army. Other officers, at the same time, have been trained in military educational institutions of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and China," writes Akram Kharief.

Different events and crisis on the domestic and international level played significant role in strengthening those ties in the second half of the twentieth century all the way down to this day.

©New Defence Order. Strategy № 01 (2019) 

According to Kharief, the process of modernising the Algerian Air Force came after a visit that President Putin paid to Algeria earlier in 2007. In that visit, Algeria's debt to Russia was converted into weapons supply contract, which later came to be a turning point in MTC between the two countries "to such an extent that Algeria has made a decision to allocate a substantial part of its defence budget to purchase Russian equipment."

©New Defence Order. Strategy  №1 (60) 2020

Algerian army has become one of the first to show interest in ADMS S-400 and S-350. In the nearest five years, they can appear in the inventory. Besides, in the context of diversification policy, Algeria can purchase radars and ADMSs of China production, as well as electromagnetic warfare systems. Collaboration with the USA is probable in the field of radars, as operation experience with them was considered as a positive one.

Finally, it cannot be excluded that Algeria will become a buyer of new batches of ADMGS Pantzyr-S1 and even S-500, in case the latter system is offered for export in the nearest decade.

“Good prospects exist, and good results have been already achieved in the area of military-technical co-operation. Existing plans should be carried out, we are disposed to do this along with Algerian friends”

Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia

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