Russia to sell air defense missiles to Venezuela

Russia is in talks with Venezuela to supply it with sophisticated air defense missiles, a Russian news agency reported Tuesday.

Between 10 and 12 Tor-M1 missiles could be supplied to Venezuela at the initial stage, the Interfax-Military News Agency said. It also quoted a defense industry official as saying that another 20 could be sold later.

A spokesman for Russia's state-controlled arms trading monopoly, Rosoboronexport, refused to comment on the report.

The Tor-M1 air defense missile system can identify up to 48 targets and fire at two targets simultaneously at a height of up to 6,000 meters (20,000 feet), the AP reports.

Despite U.S. efforts to block other countries from selling arms to Venezuela, Russia recently has signed some US$3 billion in military deals with President Hugo Chavez's government, making it the largest weapons supplier to Venezuela. Contracts include 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 24 Su-30 fighter jets and 53 Russian helicopters.

Russia has also just delivered 29 Tor-M1s to Iran, over Washington's complaints.

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