A Russian newspaper says Russia is planning to sell up to nine submarines to Venezuela.

The Kommersant reports Thursday that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is expected to sign the deal during a trip to Moscow, which starts June 29.  The contract would include five older, 636-type diesel submarines and the future delivery of four state-of-the-art 677 Amur submarines.  Russia has also supplied similar submarines to China.

In recent years, Venezuela has become a major buyer of Russian arms, a development that has prompted expressions of concern by the United States.  Previous Russian arms deals have supplied Venezuela with Kalashnikov rifles, jets, helicopters, and other weaponry.

Venezuela's president is a fierce critic of the Bush administration and says it supported the coup against him in April 2002.  U.S. officials have denied the charge.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.