MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Venezuela may purchase man-portable
air defense systems, Il-76 transport planes and T-90 tanks from Russian
in the near future, a Russian political analyst said Thursday.
According to unofficial reports, Russia and Venezuela signed a new
framework agreement Wednesday on delivery of Russian air defense
systems, tanks and military transport planes to the Latin American
"The new agreement, most likely, involves purchases of Igla
man-portable air defense systems, Il-76MD military transport planes and
T-90 main battle tanks," said Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for
Analysis of Strategies and Technologies.
Pukhov has estimated that Venezuela could spend $5 billion or more over the next 10 years on Russian military equipment.
He said that after the Swedish Saab announced in 2006 it could not
continue sales of portable anti-aircraft systems to Venezuela because
of a U.S. arms embargo against President Hugo Chavez's government,
Russian Igla missiles became the obvious choice for the Venezuelan
The embargo also means Caracas experiences difficulties in maintaining
a fleet of U.S.-made C-130 Hercules military transport planes. At
present, Russia has several Il-76 transport planes available for sale
after a deal with China fell through due to technical problems.
According to Pukhov, Venezuela could be interested in the purchase of
Russian T-90 main battle tanks because of the excellent value for money
A spokesman for Uralvagonzavod, a Urals-based manufacturer of T-90s,
said the Russian tanks are superior to foreign models of the same class
in terms of firepower, maneuverability, speed and armor protection, but
sell for almost half the price.
The Uralvagonzavod official said, though, that the plant would have to
operate at full capacity to meet outstanding orders, so it would be a
few years before the company was able to produce tanks under a new
In 2005-2006, Venezuela bought more than 50 combat helicopters, 24
Su-30MK2 fighters, 12 Tor-M1 air defense missile systems and 100,000
AK-103 rifles from Russia. Current contracts are worth about $4
billion, according to various sources.
Wednesday's reported deal could see Russia become the main supplier of
military equipment to Venezuela. Chavez, an outspoken critic of
Washington, has focused his foreign policy on bolstering ties with
countries outside the U.S. sphere of influence since coming to power
nine years ago.
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