MOSCOW, October 9 (RIA Novosti)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez on his re-election as president for the fourth term.
Chavez, 58, won re-election in Sunday's polls with 54.6 percent of the vote to beat opposition challenger Henrique Capriles. The outspoken Socialist president will lead the Latin American country for another six years.
“In a telephone conversation on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Hugo Chavez with a victory at presidential elections in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and wished him further success at this state post, which bears high degree of responsibility,” the Kremlin press service said.
Both leaders praised the success in the development of bilateral ties and vowed to continue productive cooperation in various areas, including defense, energy, housing and banking.
Venezuela is a leading importer of Russian arms. Between 2005 and 2007, Caracas signed $4 billion worth of arms deals with Russia to buy Sukhoi fighter jets, combat helicopters, air defense systems and small arms.
Russian loans to Venezuela are secured by Russia’s participation in a number of joint oil projects with Caracas.
Russia's state-controlled oil giant Rosneft has recently gained access to the Carabobo 2 block for $1.2 billion paid upfront and a $1-bln loan to Venezuela's state company PDVSA.
Rosneft is also one of five Russian companies in a consortium working with PDVSA to develop the Junin Block 6 of the Orinoco belt.
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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.