Russia has opened a $2.2 billion line of credit for Venezuela to purchase weapons including armoured vehicles and surface-to-air missiles, President Hugo Chavez said on Monday.
Venezuela is buying more arms because it feels threatened by Colombia’s decision to give US troops greater access to its military bases, Chavez said.
Repeating a frequent theme of his presidency, the socialist leader said the United States would like to invade Venezuela and seize the country’s oil fields. He said the bases in Colombia could help the US stage such an attack.
The arms deal was announced last week during Chavez’s visit to Moscow, and he gave details today. Chavez said the deal calls for Venezuela to buy 92 Russian-made T-72 tanks as well as Smerch anti-aircraft missile launching systems. He didn’t say how many missile launchers Venezuela was buying.
“The Russian government approved financing for $2.2 billion. For what? For weapons, and we must thank them,” Chavez said. “We’ve decided to install a powerful anti-air defence system.”
Last week, Chavez said the deal also included the purchase of ground-to-ground missiles with a range of up to 300 kilometres. He said they were needed to improve Venezuela’s defences.
Chavez said nobody should be alarmed by Venezuela’s newest arms purchases. Venezuela “doesn’t plan to invade anybody,” he said.