Russia: military exercises with Algeria ‘not directed against a third party’

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that the upcoming military exercises scheduled between Russia and Algeria in November near Morocco’s southern provinces “are planned and not directed against a third party.” 

Spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, stated that the exercises are “planned and are being implemented within the framework of the approved program for military cooperation with Algeria.”

Called “Desert Shield”, these exercises are “like all military exercises in which Russia participates, and not directed against any third party,” according to Zakharova.

The press office of the Russian Southern Military District said in a statement that “the first planning conference was held in the Russian city of Vladikavkaz to prepare for the joint Russian-Algerian anti-terror maneuvers, which are scheduled to take place in November this year at the Hamkir (south-west of Bechar) base in Algeria.”

The military event is set to take place in the Bechar region between November 16 and 28, near the borders with Morocco, and about two months after the end of the “African Lion” maneuvers between the US Army and the Kingdom.

160 Russian and Algerian soldiers are participating in this exercise, which consists of searching for, detecting and eliminating terrorist groups in a desert environement.

Algerian defense news outlet MENA Defense confirmed that the place where the new maneuvers will take place “has a symbolic significance, being the site where French forces developed ballistic weapons and conducted space experiments before Algeria regained in 1967.”

The shared desire to strengthen strategic partnerships between Algeria and Moscow was renewed with Algerian President Tebboune’s accession to power in 2019. 

Algeria already imported nearly 80% of its military equipment from Russia between the early 1960s and the late 1980s. Between 2003 and 2012, Russia increased sales by more than 10%, making Algeria the third-largest buyer of Russian weapons.

In recent months, relations between the two countries have witnessed an increase of official visits and exchange of expertise, cementing the growth of bilateral cooperation. 

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