Bipartisan group voice concern to Blinken of growing Russia-Algeria ties

A bipartisan group sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “sanction Algerian officials who were involved in the purchase of Russian arms."

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz, at the State Department in Washington, US, June 3, 2021. (photo credit: JACQUELYN MARTIN / POOL / REUTERS)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz, at the State Department in Washington, US, June 3, 2021.
(photo credit: JACQUELYN MARTIN / POOL / REUTERS)

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan group of 27 members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday to “voice concerns over the recent reports of the ever-growing ties between the Russian Federation and the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria.” The letter was led by Rep. Lisa McClain.

What did they mention in the letter?

They noted that Russia is Algeria’s largest military arms supplier.“Last year alone, Algeria finalized an arms purchase with Russia that totaled over $7 billion,” the members wrote. “In this deal, Algeria agreed to purchase advanced Russian fighter aircraft, including the Sukhoi 57. Previously, Russia had not agreed to sell this particular aircraft to any other nation – until now.”

According to the letter, this military transfer has made Algeria the third largest recipient of Russian arms in the world. The members noted that there was legislation in place, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which allows the Secretary of State to impose sanctions on individuals who knowingly engage in a significant transaction with a person that is part of, or operates for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation.

“This recent Algeria-Russia arms purchase would clearly be categorized as “a significant transaction” under CAATSA. Yet, no sanctions available to you have been crafted by the State Department,” the letter reads.

 Ukrainian tanks move into the city, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine, in Mariupol, February 24, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA) Ukrainian tanks move into the city, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in eastern Ukraine, in Mariupol, February 24, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/CARLOS BARRIA)

“As the war in Ukraine continues, Russia is in desperate need of funds to continue its war effort,” they continued. “Russia’s attempt to punish the European Union’s involvement in the conflict by blocking sales of natural gas to European countries has left President Vladimir Putin with few income streams into Russian government coffers.”

It is likely that Moscow will continue to push for additional arms sales, the Congress members argued. “It is critical that President Joe Biden and his administration prepare to sanction those who attempt to fund the Russian government, and its war machine, through the purchase of military equipment.

“We request you begin to immediately implement significant sanctions on those in the Algerian government who were involved in the purchase of Russian arms,” they wrote. “The United States needs to send a clear message to the world that the support for Vladimir Putin and his regime’s barbaric war efforts will not be tolerated."