MOSCOW, August 6 (RIA Novosti) - The tanks that Venezuela is planning to buy from Russia could be of the T-72 type, a Russian military analyst said on Thursday.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said at a press conference on Wednesday that the country plans to buy several battalions of Russian tanks in response to a possible increase in U.S. military personnel in neighboring Colombia.
"The tanks in question are most likely the T-72 model, which best fit the needs of the Latin American market," said Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy director of the Center for Strategic Analysis, a Moscow based think tank.
He added that Venezuela could afford even new T-90 tanks, but that due to the low price of oil on current markets, it would be more logical to expect the purchase of the T-72.
The price of a T-90 main battle tank (MBT), manufactured by Russia's Uralvagonzavod plant is $5-7 million, while the price of a T-72 model is $1-2 million, the analyst said.
A Russian tank battalion comprises 31 tanks.
Last year, Uralvagonzavod produced a total of 165 T-90 tanks. Over half of the vehicles were exported, and the remaining tanks replaced some of the T-72s in the Russian Armed Forces.
The analyst said Russia may have enough T-72 tanks available for the sale to Venezuela.
Venezuela has already spent around $4 billion since 2005 on Russian arms, including helicopters, fighter planes, and Kalashnikov assault rifles.
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The current contract portfolio of Russian arms exporters is worth about $46 billion. Annual exports total $15 billion, and this will ensure uninterrupted deliveries for the next three years, even in the worst-case scenario. The list of the main buyers of Russian weapons is unlikely to change drastically.