The Algerian president’s visit to Russia or a splash in the water: On Tuesday June 13, 2023, the Algerian president began a three-day state visit to Russia, “at the invitation of his counterpart Vladimir Putin”.
The Algerian president’s visit to Russia, or a splash in the water!
In reality, this low-key trip – rather like the one to Portugal, where he was greeted by egg-throwing – is more a working visit to Russia by the oldest Muppet in the Muppets Show made in Algeria. It’s good to know that Putin has not reserved an agenda for his so-called “protégé” to make this “convocation” a state visit.
That said, Tebboune will first travel to St. Petersburg to take part in the International Economic Forum being held there from June 14 to 17, before perhaps being welcomed by the master of the Kremlin. According to the official blablabla from Algiers, “this visit will be an opportunity for the two countries to strengthen their cooperation in a difficult international context”.
It’s no secret that Algiers and Moscow have long enjoyed privileged relations. And with good reason: trade between the two countries – excluding arms and military cooperation – is in the region of three billion dollars, and is largely based on the mechanical engineering, metallurgy and agri-food sectors.
Military cooperation, of course, is not to be outdone. Moscow is a major arms supplier. Indeed, in military terms, international reports indicate that Algeria is the world’s third largest importer of Russian weapons, while Moscow is considered to be the Algerian army’s leading supplier of weapons and military systems, accounting for over 50%. However, contrary to all expectations, military “cooperation” will not be on the agenda at this meeting, if it is to be held at all.
The Algerian head of state having accepted Vladimir Putin’s invitation to meet him at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a multilateral setting where it is highly doubtful that the Russian President will be able to devote himself exclusively to the senile man from Algiers. This, despite the fact that the latter is one of the very few heads of state to take part in the St. Petersburg economic forum.
Visit without protocols: Putin belittles Tebboune
In the worst-case scenario, Putin and his Algerian counterpart are expected to take stock of bilateral relations and sign a number of minor agreements, notably within the framework of the famous “in-depth strategic cooperation” between the two countries. This was announced several months ago with great fanfare. Algeria and Russia will be taking this step at a complicated geopolitical juncture for the Russians, due to the conflict with Ukraine, and to Algiers’ great displeasure, there will be little talk of any military equipment procurement.
In short, this visit, which Algiers has been preparing since 2021 to sign a “new historic partnership” – a renewal, as it were, of the “declaration of strategic cooperation” by which Algiers and Moscow have been linked since 2001 – is a splash in the water. Indeed, these agreements encompass a whole (economy, defense, etc.), yet the military side, the big slice of the cake, is obscured, all the more so as the Economic Forum in which Algiers is taking part is a global one, and does not address Algeria exclusively, being in this respect a multilateral framework.
Curiously, this little tour et puis s’en va, this visit or even this convocation, which was scheduled for May, has been postponed until June, rather like the one that the senile man from Algiers was due to make in France. Except that the latter has once again been postponed indefinitely. According to press reports, the Algiers-Paris trip is “under discussion between the two parties to find a suitable date”.