“Questions that the strengthening of the defensive capacity of small states may be a threat to someone, I think, are inaccurate,” [Russian Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin said in Caracas. “If the United States doesn’t want to supply weapons to other countries, such as Venezuela, it’s good for us. Let them go on with this. ‘Nature abhors a vacuum’ is what we say in Russia.” We’re in the money, says the Russian factories assembling Kalashnikovs. The Moscow Times reports that Venezuela is spending $5 billion on Russian arms, including lots and lots and lots of Kalashnikovs. And mortgaging its future [note from the U.S.: been there done that].

“Venezuela’s spending on Russian weapons would include the $2.2 billion seven-year loan that Moscow promised to extend to Caracas in September, Putin said. Venezuela has not drawn from the credit line yet. In asking for the loan, Caracas said it intended to buy several S-300 air defense systems and 92 T-72 tanks. Putin’s announcement Monday indicated that the trade might go well beyond those previous plans, however. He did not disclose what additional supplies Venezuela was considering, although he did say the contracts would go to 13 companies, including the Izhmash plant, which is the maker of Kalashnikov assault rifles, and ‘one of the plants in Tula.'”

3 Responses to Venezuela Hearts Kalashnikovs

  1. Chavez needs weapons because he is facing a raft of local troubles. Morgan Stanley reports that Venezuela may face a cash crunch this year as their crude oil output slumps about a third from levels in the 90s. With the drought, they aren't generating much hydro-electric power, either. Trying to hang on until the summer rains, Chavez has ordered a week-long national holiday to save electricity and even sent troops to close down shopping areas. But unless the rain is unusually heavy, water shortages, and hence power shortages, will continue after the rainy season. People won't be happy without water and power.

  2. The tanks are a bit of a giveaway. Why would Venezuela need tanks? Tanks serve two basic purposes: To destroy other tanks, or to intimidate the civilian populace. Since Venezuela is not under threat of attack by any force armed with tanks (do any of Venezuela’s neighbors even have tanks?) they must be intended for the other purpose.

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