On Monday, Russia’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Vladimir Zaemskiy, confirmed that Russia will assist Venezuela with the construction of a factory to produce Kalashnikov AK-103 assault rifles and will sell fifty-three Mi-17 military helicopters to Venezuela.
The deal is part of an accord that was signed and announced publicly on August 15th of this year.
The ambassador said Venezuela’s replacement of obsolete military equipment is a “natural process of any country,” and assured that “the military cooperation between Russia and Venezuela is carried out according to the same rules that govern other cases.”
Moreover, “the government of Venezuela is being guided by a new concept of national defense” that “requires different technologies, and that is what [Russia] is offering Venezuela,” said the ambassador.
The United States, which was Venezuela’s top military supplier before Russia, stopped selling military equipment and replacement parts to the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, which openly opposes U.S. imperialism and advocates the replacement of capitalism with “21st Century Socialism.”
This year, Venezuela stepped up its efforts to prepare for the defense of its territory and natural resources, in response to Colombia’s attack on a guerrilla encampment in Ecuador in March and its October 30th military pact with the United States, which will allow U.S. military personnel to act with legal immunity on seven Colombian bases and expand military and spy operations across the continent.
Venezuela has purchased $4.4 billion worth of Russian military equipment since 2005, and last September Russia approved a $1 billion loan to Venezuela for future arms purchases.
In addition to military cooperation, Venezuela and Russia have created joint companies to exploit oil and build transportation infrastructure in Venezuela’s Orinoco Oil Belt, and to explore natural gas off the Venezuelan coast.
In June, the two countries created a bi-national development bank with $4 billion at its disposal. They also discussed the construction of a civilian nuclear power facility in Venezuela with Russian assistance and signed accords to increase Venezuela’s exports of coffee, cacao, rice, fruit, and other agricultural products to Russia.
On Monday, Zaemskiy also confirmed Russia’s intention to construct a Russian Lada brand automobile factory in Venezuela sometime next year.