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CARACAS, Friday October 15, 2010 | Update
 
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World Affairs | Foreign Policy / Military Agreement "is going very well," said Chávez
Putin announces sale of 35 tanks to Venezuela's government

Although Putin would not elaborate, experts believe that the sale involves T-72 and T-90 tanks, which would replace the French MX-30 tanks and which have already been purchased by some 30 countries, including Iran and Syria

  EL UNIVERSAL
Friday October 15, 2010  06:16 PM


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced that he will soon provide 35 tanks to Venezuela, after his meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, to whom he vowed to sell other weapons.

"Russia fully complies with the bilateral agreements in the field of military-technical cooperation. Shortly, Russia plans to provide a new batch of weapons. They are 35 tanks," said Putin at a joint press conference with Chávez at his residence Novo-Ogoriovo, outside Moscow.

Although Putin would not elaborate, experts believe that the sale involves T-72 and T-90 tanks, which would replace the French MX-30 tanks and which have already been purchased by some 30 countries, including Iran and Syria.

"We are willing to supply tanks and, with respect to other types of weapons, we will do it broadly. Russian companies have started to work according to their orders," he said.

For his part, Chávez emphasized that "the issue of military cooperation, for which we are under attack, is going very well."

"Now, we do have an armed force," said Chávez, who mentioned some of the purchases of Russian weapons by Caracas in recent years, including tanks, Sukhoi fighters, which he described as "the best aircraft in the world," and Kalashnikov rifles.

Earlier on Friday, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said that Moscow will not reduce military-technical cooperation with Caracas, after his meeting with Chávez at the Kremlin.

"In this field, we have not slowed down, not even now," Medvedev said at a joint press conference with Chávez in the Malachite Room of the Kremlin.

On Chávez's previous visit to Russia, in September 2009, Medvedev promised that Moscow would supply the weapons Venezuela needed, including tanks and armored cars.

Last April, during his visit to Venezuela, Putin said that Venezuela planned to buy Russian arms worth over USD 5 billion.

That figure includes a USD 2-billion loan Moscow will grant to Caracas for the acquisition of heavy weapons.

Venezuela, which according to Venezuelan sources has bought Russian weapons worth USD 4.4 billion since 2005, has emerged as a major Latin American customer of the Russian military industry, which has ignited concerns in the US and Colombia.

The Russian press has reported that Venezuela is interested in diesel-electric submarines of the class "Varshavianka" (Kilo, according to the NATO classification).

Military experts quoted by the RIA-Novosti news agency said on Friday that Caracas would receive the S-300 antiaircraft missile system that Moscow decided not to supply to Iran because of the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council.

According to these sources, Russia has provided to Venezuela a dozen Tor-M1 air defense systems, the same ones Tehran acquired in late 2005.

Chavez's visit to Russia is part of a foreign tour for almost two weeks that will also take him on October 16 to Belarus, and then to Ukraine, Iran, Syria, Libya, Algeria and Portugal.

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