Venezuela Signs $3Bln Military Hardware Deal with Russia

Russian business daily Vedomosti reported on Thursday, July 27, that Venezuelan President Huga Chavez will sign deals for Russian fighters, missiles and guns worth $3 billion. Chavez, set to cement ties with Russia at a Kremlin meeting with President Vladimir Putin, has hailed Russia for defying pleas from the United States to reconsider the sales.

Venezuela, the world’s No.5 oil exporter, was expected to sign arms deals worth about $1 billion with Russia. But Sergei Chemezov, head of Russian state arms trader Rosoboronexport, said Venezuela would finalize deals worth $3 billion, Vedomosti said.

On top of an expected deal to buy at least 24 Russian Sukhoi-30 jets to replace Venezuela’s U.S. F-16s, Venezuela will buy helicopters, surface-to-air missiles and possibly even a submarine, the paper said, citing Russian defense sources.
Washington has banned U.S. arms manufacturers from selling to Chavez. The United States says the populist leader, who proclaims socialist ideals to unite South America against U.S. influence, is destabilizing the region.

U.S. officials said they hoped to talk Russia out of the arms deals. But senior Kremlin officials say they see no reason to take advice from the United States.

The deal to buy Sukhoi-30 jets was worth nearly $1.5 billion, when all the necessary armaments and support technology was included, Vedomosti said, citing a source in the Russian aerospace industry. The paper also cited an unidentified Russian defense ministry source as saying that Venezuela would buy short-range TOR-M1 tactical surface-to-air missiles. Russia’s plans to sell Iran the same missiles has raised the ire of Washington

The defense ministry source said Venezuela could even buy an Amur non-nuclear submarine.

Russia’s state arms trader Rosoboronexport declined to comment on the report.http://www.mosnews.com/money/2006/07/27/venezuelacontract.shtml