[R-G] Venezuela Distributes Russian Arms, Intends More Purchases
fentona at shaw.ca
Sun Jun 18 18:11:13 MDT 2006
Venezuela Distributes Russian Arms, Intends More Purchases
Friday, Jun 16, 2006
Caracas, Venezuela, June 16, 2006—In a ceremony to mark the arrival
and disbursement of a first shipment of 30,000 Russian-made AK-103
assault rifles on Wednesday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said
that these new weapons were merely for the defense of Venezuela.
Chavez also confirmed that an agreement had been reached for
Venezuela to purchase 24 Russian Sukhoi-30 fighter jets.
Venezuela first announced the purchase of 100,000 Russian Kalashnikov
rifles over a year ago. The remaining 70,000 will be delivered later
this year. Venezuela’s purchase agreement also includes license for
Venezuela to manufacture its own AK-103 rifles, for which it will
build a factory.
The rifles are meant to replace the current armament of aging Belgian
FAL rifles, which Venezuela had bought over 40 years ago. Chavez
handed over the new weapons to officers of the Presidential Honor
Guard and gave the old ones to the newly formed military reserve.
During the ceremony, Chavez said, “the world knows we do not have a
plan to attack anyone.” “Those who threaten Venezuela with being a
threat are the real threat,” added Chavez, referring to the United
States, which has repeatedly argued that Venezuela is engaged in an
The planned purchase of the Sukhoi-30 fighter jets had originally
been announced last month, but Chavez confirmed it during the
ceremony and specified his government would buy 24 and is considering
buying more Russian helicopters. Venezuela has already agreed to buy
44 transport helicopters for the army last year. The additional batch
would be attack helicopters for the air force.
“These are assault helicopters, which are ideal for war of
resistance,” said Chavez, adding that the purchase would also
include, “a state-of-the-art helicopter maintenance center.”
Two of the Sukhoi-30 fighters will arrive in a few weeks, with the
rest to be delivered by the end of the year. According to Chavez,
these are the most modern fighter jets in the world and are far more
capable than the aging F-16s Venezuela received from the U.S. 20
years ago. Venezuelan officials say they need to replace the F-16s
because the U.S. has refused to honor its contract to maintain the
jets and has blocked Venezuela’s efforts to let third parties, such
as Israel, to maintain the jets.
In an event on Thursday Chavez insisted again that Venezuela is not
involved in an arms race as Bush administration officials have
repeatedly claimed. He went on to say that of the $1.1 trillion
dollars spent on arms in the world, the U.S. spends 48% of that
figure, while the next largest country spends merely 5% of that
figure. In comparison, Venezuela spends a tiny fraction of that.
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