20 September, 2006

Chavez: New arms deals to make Venezuela 'impregnable fortress'

Chavez: New arms deals to make Venezuela 'impregnable fortress':
"We have to safeguard our national sovereignty against the aggressors of always,' said the president who has had an antagonistic relationship with the United States since he took office in 1999.

Chavez said Russia is to supply Venezuela by year's end with the first of 24 Sukhoi SU-30MK2s, Russia's most sophisticated fighter planes, and 30 Mil Mi-35 assault helicopters that were part of an arms order worth about 1 billion dollars that he placed in July during a visit to Russia.

At that time, the United States urged Russia to back off from weapons deals with Venezuela.

Such an arms purchase exceeds Caracas' defence needs and is 'not helpful in terms of regional stability,' US State Department spokesman Tom Casey argued, but Russia rebuffed the US concerns."

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