Chavez says Venezuela to buy planes from Russia because U.S. blocks Brazil deal

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday that his government will buy Russian-made Antonov planes because the U.S. has blocked a deal for Venezuela to buy similar military planes from Brazil.

Venezuela had planned to buy Super Tucano planes from Brazil, but Washington prevented the sale by making clear it would not approve any sale of U.S.-made parts on the small training and combat aircraft.

"Now we can't buy Tucanos from Brazil, and they talk about free trade," Chavez said, adding that he is looking instead to "buy ourselves some Antonovs from Russia."

He didn't say how many planes, but Chavez already has said Venezuela is considering buying Sukhoi Su-30 and Su-35 fighter jets to replace the country's aging fleet of U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets for which the U.S. had stopped selling him upgrades.

The U.S. government, which has constantly clashed with Chavez, last week announced it was curtailing new weapons sales to Venezuela, accusing his government of failing to cooperate in counterterrorism efforts. But Chavez called that a blatant lie, saying "the one that supports terrorism is the U.S. government."

Speaking at a news conference, Chavez called U.S. President George W. Bush a "clown" and "ignorant," criticizing the U.S. for not extraditing Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles, a former CIA agent who is wanted in Venezuela on charges of plotting the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger plane that killed 73 people, reports AP.

O.Ch.