The head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, will visit Algeria this Tuesday, an important ally of Moscow, a gas exporter and increasingly sought after by a Europe that wants to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.
Lavrov arrived in Algiers on Monday night and is expected to meet with his Algerian counterpart, Ramtane Lamamra, and later with the President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, according to the local press.
The visit, Lavrov’s first to Algeria since January 2019, coincides with his 60th. anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Algeria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone with Tebboune on April 18 to discuss, inter alia, “coordination within OPEC+ (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies) and the situation in Ukraine”, according to with the official Russian agency TASS.
Algeria, one of the world’s leading gas exporters, supplies around 11% of the gas consumed in Europe, while Russia is responsible for supplying 47%.
Several countries that want to reduce their dependence on Russian energy, following the invasion of Ukraine, have turned to Algeria, despite being an ally of Moscow.
However, Algiers has a very limited ability to increase its exports.
Last Wednesday, the European Commission presented a proposal to the 27 member states that provides for the cessation of imports of Russian crude oil within six months and of refined products, in particular diesel, by the end of 2022.
At stake is a sixth and new package of sanctions against Moscow due to the invasion of Ukraine at the end of last February, after the European Commission covered, in the previous set of restrictive measures, the ban on coal imports.
The sanction, however, needs the unanimous approval of the 27 member states, but Hungary has been blocking the decision.
Even so, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Monday, after a meeting with the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Órban, on “energy security”, that progress had been made on the issue.
“We’ve made progress, but more work will be needed,” said Von der Leyen, announcing the upcoming videoconference “with other actors in the region” to “strengthen regional cooperation in oil infrastructure.”
As a country dependent on Russian hydrocarbons, Hungary is asking its European partners for guarantees on its energy supply to agree to a sixth sanctions package against Moscow, including the suspension of Russian oil purchases.
“Hungary will not give its consent to the Commission’s proposed sanctions against Russia, because it is a problem for us and does not offer a solution,” said Hungarian diplomat Peter Szijjarto, quoted today by the government’s spokesman. , Zoltan Kovacs.
The Commission’s proposal would have the effect of “an atomic bomb on Hungary’s economy and destroy our stable energy supply”, he explained.
The war in Ukraine exposed the European Union’s excessive energy dependence on Russia, as this country is also responsible for supplying Europe with 25% of its oil and 45% of its coal.
Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine on February 24 that has killed more than 3,000 civilians, according to the UN, which warns that the real number is likely to be much higher.
The military offensive caused the flight of more than 13 million people, of which more than 5.5 million were out of the country, according to the latest UN data.
The Russian invasion was condemned by the international community in general, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and reinforcing economic and political sanctions on Moscow.
FOLLOW ALL ABOUT THE WAR IN UKRAINE HERE