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Algeria dances between support for Russia and "strategic partnership with Europe" thanks to gas

The Algerian delegation to the United Nations voted against suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council while maintaining its economic and energy alliances with Europe
Tebboune

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"Algeria is one of our great strategic partners", Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares has repeatedly stated at a press conference. "Algeria's respect for gas supply contracts has always been very scrupulous. It is almost a hallmark of the Algerian government", he added in response to journalists' questions about the fracture in relations with Algeria.

Weeks earlier, Tebboune's government withdrew its ambassador to Spain, following statements of support for Morocco's Sahara plan by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. But if the foreign minister's words are anything to go by, relations with the Maghreb country could not be better. 

It is a case that is striking in the context of the war in Ukraine, which has inflamed the diplomatic tempers of the members of the European Union regarding their relationship with Russia. Economic sanctions or expelled diplomats, on the one hand, and a public opinion that attacks companies that do business in Russia, on the other. 

gasoducto argelia

According to Algerian journalist Sable Bledi's analysis for Al-Arab, Algeria's foreign policy will eventually catch up with the Tebboune government. 

The synergies between Moscow and Algiers appear strong in the eyes of the gallery after Algeria voted against Russia's expulsion from the UN Human Rights Council. A decision applauded by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. Algeria was the only Maghreb country to support Russia in this vote, and along with Syria, the only two from the Arab world, while the rest preferred to abstain. 

In early April, Moscow announced that its "Spetsnaz", special operations troops, will soon take part in military manoeuvres in Algeria, very close to the border with Morocco. This was another sign of close proximity, days after Secretary of State Blinken's visit to Algiers. The American's visit was described by Algeria's official Algerian press agency as "cordial and constructive", but Al-Arab sources claim that Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra's decision not to meet Blinken at the airport was deliberate, rather than a glitch in his schedule.

blinken argelia

In parallel to Blinken's visit, Russian foreign minister Lavrov indicated that he is keen to visit Algeria in the near future to continue working with a friendly government. 

Russia has shown no signs of discomfort since the start of the war in Ukraine over Algeria's gas exports to Europe. While Algerian gas exports do not reach all countries, and mainly affect Spain, Portugal and Italy, they have increased at the behest of Europe and the US. 

The reasons why the steady supply of Algerian gas does not bother Russia are unclear, but could be due to a lack of competition, or Algeria's inability to provide enough gas to allow Central and Eastern European states to wean themselves off their dependence on Russian gas.