From Jan. 23-26, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov toured three nations of the Maghreb — Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia — for the first time since November 2005. The negotiations revolved around the issues of trade, economic cooperation and conflicts in Libya, Syria and Western Sahara.
The visit to Algeria — the sixth for Lavrov — was central to his North African tour. It took place a week before the session of the Russian-Algerian inter-governmental commission for trade and economic cooperation. The timing was a mere coincidence, though a symbolic one, as Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel pointed out during the final press conference. The ministers took their time discussing the prospects of economic partnership and agreed to arrange a negotiation venue for entrepreneurs from their countries. The economic interaction between Russia and Algeria appears to be developing: Since 2015, bilateral trade has doubled, reaching $4,6 billion in 2017. However, two-thirds of this sum consist of weapons and military equipment turnover, including the so-called associated products: engines, fuel, etc. For a partnership to be called “close,” mainly selling military hardware is not enough.