Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Hugo Chavez arrives in Russia to say hello from Fidel Castro and spend 30 billion dollars

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who arrived in Russia with a short visit upon the invitation from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, had his first meeting scheduled with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Chavez said hello to Putin from Fidel Castro.

Putin said during the meeting with Chavez that Russia and Venezuela had new horizons of economic cooperation to explore. In particular, Moscow is ready to consider an opportunity of cooperation with Venezuela in the peaceful use of nuclear power.

Speaking about the expansion of bilateral ties, Putin emphasized the launch of Gazprom’s first drilling station in the Gulf of Venezuela, which is slated to take place at the end of October. “The cooperation between Russian companies and the Venezuelan state oil company has very good perspectives not only in Venezuela, but in third world countries too,” Putin said.

“We have new opportunities opening in the economic field: energy, high technologies, machine-building and petrochemistry. We are ready to consider the question of the joint usage of nuclear power in peaceful purposes,” Putin said.

As for the cooperation in the defense industry, Putin said that Russia was determined to realize the agreements on the naval cooperation too. A group of Russian warships is currently traveling to the Atlantic Ocean, Putin reminded.

Hugo Chavez expressed his gratitude to Putin for the warm welcome in Moscow and said hello to the Russian prime minister from Cuban leader Fidel Castro. “When I was landing in Moscow I was writing a letter to my friend Fidel, and he asked me to say hello to you, and so did his brother, of course,” Chavez said.

“Thank you, dear friend, for inviting me to Moscow,” Chavez told Putin in the Kremlin. Chavez also thanked Putin jokingly for making the visit happening before severe Russian winter weather.

Putin pointed out in his conversation with the Venezuelan leader that Latin America was becoming a conspicuous link in the establishment of the multipolar world.

Russia will give Venezuela a billion-dollar credit to implement the military and technical cooperation program. Moscow and Caracas have already signed a number of contracts within the scope of the program. The total amount of the signed contracts is evaluated at $4.4 billion, Interfax reports with reference to a source in the Kremlin.

The source added that the two countries were running the military cooperation on the base of the intergovernmental agreement and in strict compliance with international obligations and legal norms.

A source from the Russian defense complex said that Russia had already delivered 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles (AK-103, a new modification) to Venezuela within the framework of previously signed contracts. There will also be two plants opened in Venezuela soon to assemble the rifles and produce ammunition to them. The two countries also work on the contract to deliver 24 Su-30MK2 fighter jets to Venezuela and about 50 Mil helicopters.

Venezuela plans to purchase 20 Tor-M1 missile complexes from Russia and three diesel-electric submarines. The contracts will total one billion US dollars.

Venezuela also plans to purchase six non-nuclear submarines and several dozens of warships of different classes from Russia.

Russian experts offer Venezuela 14310 Mirage patrol cutters, 12061E Murena-E air cushion amphibious assault landing crafts and mobile missile complexes capable of hitting sea-based targets at the range of up to 130 kilometers.

The source added that Caracas plans to spend over $30 billion on military hardware and weapons before 2012 in accordance with the program to rearm the Venezuelan army.