Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he has signed an arms deal with
Russia for short range missiles.
The missiles have a range of 300 kilometers. The weapons are a part of
a series of arms deals with Moscow. Mr. Chavez made the announcement on
Friday after returning from a ten-day tour of Africa, Asia and Europe
and he insists the weapons are for defense only.
Mr. Chavez says
the rockets will arrive in Venezuela soon and he says his country is
not going to attack anybody with them. He says the weapons will help
defend his country from any threat no matter where it comes from.
Venezuela is currently involved in a dispute with neighboring Colombia
over that country's agreement with the U.S. to allow American troops
access to seven Colombia bases for anti-drug operations.
says it is willing to sell Venezuela whatever weapons it is willing to
buy. Venezuela is currently negotiating the purchase of 100 T-72 and
T-90 tanks from Russia.
Russia has already sold the country 24
fighter jets, dozens of helicopters and assault rifles. This after the
United States barred the South American country from buying U.S.
equipment. In recent years, Venezuela has spent more than $4 billion
on Russian weapons.
In addition to the arms deals, President
Chavez recently acknowledged the independence of the Russian-supported
breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The U.S. and the
European Union consider the areas part of Georgia and have repeatedly
asked Russia to respect Georgia's territorial integrity. Nicaragua is
the only other country, besides Russia, that recognizes the regions.