[A-List] Chavez to Leave on Trip to Russia, Belarus, Iran
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Wed Jun 27 13:44:12 MDT 2007
What do the Russians think of Hugo Chavez? -- Yoshie
27 Jun 2007
News numbre: 8604060429
15:00 | 2007-06-27
Chavez to Leave on Trip to Russia, Belarus, Iran
TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was to
start a tour to Russia, Belarus and Iran on Tuesday.
Before leaving Venezuela, the left-wing populist Chavez planned to
attend the official opening of the Copa America football tournament in
his country. Though there were rumors he might move up his trip.
In Russia, Chavez is scheduled to meet President Vladimir Putin. Their
talks are likely to include discussions about the likely purchase of
nine submarines to guard Venezuela's Caribbean coastline.
In his second visit to Belarus in a year, Chavez is to evaluate the
purchase of an air defense system.
In Iran, the Venezuelan president hopes to expand bilateral political
and economic ties.
Chavez has said recently that his government is planning to purchase
the Russian submarines. He has also thanked Moscow for recently
selling Venezuela 3 billion dollars of military equipment, including
Sukhoi fighter planes, military and transport helicopters and a new
series of Kalashnikov rifles.
'The US empire wanted to leave us unarmed, but thanks to our friend
Putin, to his courage, we now have those weapons for our defense,'
The Venezuelan president's trip to Russia, Belarus and Iran will cause
him to skip a summit of the Mercosur regional trade alliance scheduled
for Thursday and Friday in Asuncion, Paraguay.
Chavez's trip comes amidst a dispute with Brazil over the Venezuelan
government's refusal to renew the broadcasting license of popular
television channel RCTV.
Opinion & analysis
U.S. is the third wheel in Russian-Venezuelan negotiations
18:22 | 25/ 06/ 2007
MOSCOW. (Military commentator Andrei Vasilyev for RIA Novosti) -
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is arriving in Russia at the end of
June on an official visit.
Pundits are asking whether the two sides will sign new contracts for
arms supplies, in particular, submarines. The United States is
particularly interested. For some reason it thinks its opinion must be
taken into account in the decision-making process.
The Bush administration has cause for concern. Russia has entered the
arms market so aggressively in recent years that many, including the
U.S. itself, have called American dominance into doubt.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States
dominated the highly competitive market for conventional arms,
military analyst Richard Grimmet said in December 2006. Now the
situation has changed. Moscow is acting more aggressively.
Many countries like Russian weapons, and not only regular buyers.
Recently more armies have changed suppliers, finding that equipment
from Russia is more advanced, more reliable and less expensive.
Colombia's armed forces purchased 10 Mi-17 military transport
helicopters, which not only perform better than American Black Hawks,
but also cost $18 million less - an important factor for a country
which is not among the richest on the continent.
Lastly, when in March 2005 Venezuela set aside $3.4 billion for
100,000 Russian-made AK-103 automatic rifles, 24 Su-30 MK2 fighter
jets and 38 Mi-35 military helicopters, Washington's anger boiled
over. Chavez then protested that Venezuela had no other option, since
the U.S. had imposed an embargo on arms exports to the country under
the pretext that Caracas was not cooperative enough with Washington in
fighting terrorism. Meanwhile, Russia, unlike the U.S., supplies
weapons to Venezuela without any political strings attached and
respects the country's sovereignty.
Nor did the United States' attempt to put pressure on Russia have any
effect. The first person to protest was U.S. Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld, who could not understand why Venezuela needed a hundred
thousand Kalashnikov rifles. Then, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
voiced concerns over the contract during her visit to Moscow. But
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told her that Russian military
cooperation with Venezuela did not violate international law. Deputy
Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov put an end to the matter by saying that
"the contract was not liable for review ... 24 aircraft are not too
many to protect a country as large as Venezuela ... The country is
subject to no international sanctions, and there are no restrictions
on fulfilling the contract."
The Venezuelan breakthrough has proved a contagious case of
disobedience, one that could seriously harm American influence on the
continent. When Argentina looked into possible purchases of Russian
military equipment last year, its defense minister, Nilda Garre, said
that Buenos Aires was not afraid that the U.S. might react negatively.
Arms purchases are the sovereign right of every country, she said, and
should not cause any grudges.
In 2005, Russian arms exports totaled $6.13 billion. The figure for
the U.S. was almost twice as high: $12.3 billion. And the U.S. kept
the 33% share of the market it had in 2004. But it is still concerned,
because in previous years the U.S. controlled up to 50% of the market.
The last thing Washington wants is for Russia's role to increase.
For Russia, growing military exports provide a chance to develop the
most advanced sector of its economy, which has in the past two years
demonstrated its ability to serve as an engine for growth in other
sectors. Gone, fortunately, are the days when the defense industry was
advised to produce vacuum cleaners or broiling pans rather than
develop new generations of weapons. It is now understood that modern
bombers and interceptors can fetch more money. An example is the Irkut
corporation, whose president, Oleg Demchenko, told a recent news
conference at the Le Bourget air show that his company would supply
242 multi-role Su-30 MKI fighters worth a total of about $7 billion to
foreign countries by 2014.
This in no way contradicts Russia's military doctrine. After all,
people in all countries want a peaceful life. But such a life requires
that the borders be tight and secure. And when President Chavez says
he intends to build a national air defense system "covering all the
Caribbean" that can pick up targets 200 km away and destroy them 100
km from Venezuela, that it his right, if only because the project in
no way threatens American security.
It is anybody's guess whether the coming visit will spawn additional
arms contracts. It is quite possible that there is no substance behind
the ballyhoo raised by the press, and submarines will not come up in
the negotiations. But whether or not they do is Caracas' business -
and Moscow's. But not Washington's - it is the third wheel.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not
necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
Venezuelan president to visit Iran July 1-3
14:11 | 20/ 06/ 2007
BUENOS AIRES, June 20 (RIA Novosti) - Venezuela's minister of industry
and mining said President Hugo Chavez would visit Iran July 1 through
During his visit, the president of one of the most influential Latin
American countries will consider the implementation of previous
agreements, issues of bilateral cooperation, and also plans to sign
"The Venezuelan side intends to offer Iranian colleagues detailed
projects in strategic cooperation, including the establishment of
special zones for technology information exchange," said Jose Khan,
who also co-chairs an intergovernmental trade and economic commission.
Tehran and Caracas signed a joint declaration on a strategic alliance
during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Venezuela last
September, and clinched a series of deals on economic cooperation,
including in the oil, metallurgical, machine-building, and
pharmaceutical industries, as well as on cultural and educational
The countries have set up a $2 billion fund to implement the projects.
Chavez has repeatedly declared his support for Iran's peaceful nuclear
research, which has come under tough international sanctions, as the
United States and some other Western countries suspect the Islamic
Republic is pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program and are
demanding a halt in uranium enrichment.
"Developing nuclear energy for peaceful ends poses no global threat.
The real threat is represented by the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and
its allies. They should be the first to serve as an example by
destroying their stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction instead of
persecuting Iran for its ambitions towards technical progress," Chavez
In response to this statement, Ahmadinejad called Chavez his brother
and leader in the struggle against American imperialism.
Chavez said earlier this week that his country, which buys weapons
abroad, had embarked on the production of its own missiles and
"We have started producing our first missiles, but they are not
long-range ones. And, we are producing ammunition," he said on TV.
Chavez denied that Venezuela was planning to attack any country,
saying they needed to produce their own weapons to prevent threats
from other states.
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