Venezuela set to buy Russian submarines

Por Venezuela Real - 13 de Mayo, 2008, 17:55, Categoría: Prensa Internacional

RIA NOVOSTI (agencia de noticias rusa)
May 12, 2008

Venezuela wants to use an $800 million Russian loan to finance the purchase of four Project 636 Kilo-class attack submarines from Moscow.

Analysts said President Hugo Chavez needed more money for his social programs and was trying to find new sources for defense contract funding.

President Chavez has been invited to attend the inauguration of Russian president-elect Dmitry Medvedev this May. The sides are to sign the submarine sale contract during his visit.

A Venezuelan diplomat said the contract, finalized in late 2007 and early 2008, was to have been signed during Chavez' visit this February. However, the Venezuelan leader postponed his visit citing aggravated relations with Colombia. In reality, Chavez wants to wait for Medvedev to assume office.

In early March, Rosoboronexport, the main Russian state-owned arms exporter, offered 12 Ilyushin Il-76 Candid strategic cargo aircraft to Caracas. The Sukhoi Aviation Holding Company is to supply 24 Su-30MK2 Flanker fighters to Venezuela by July 2008.

President Chavez will also discuss the possibility of buying several new Su-35 Super Flankers during his Moscow visit. However, the first military aircraft now undergoing flight tests will not be delivered before 2010.

Russian sources said Moscow and Caracas would have to coordinate contract funding. The aforesaid submarine contract is worth $1 billion; and the 12 Il-76s cost another $500 million.

A source in the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service said the lending of money to Indonesia for arms purchases had proven ineffective. He said Rosoboronexport could only finance arms manufacturing projects on Russian territory, and that Venezuela had to pay for personnel training, financing transport and insurance expenses and Rosoboronexport's commission fee.

Analysts said President Chavez would not declare war on Colombia or any other country in the near future. "He is just another saber rattler," a senior official at the Federal Military-Technical Cooperation Service told the paper.

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