"We will continue buying weaponry in Russia, China and Belarus in future years to ensure the defense of our territory and oil reserves from countries like the United States," the Mexican media quoted Gen. Jesus Gonzalez, who oversees weapon procurement for the Venezuelan armed forces, as saying.
Gonzalez said the U.S. deliberately imposed an arms embargo on Venezuela in order to weaken the Latin American country and seize its rich energy resources by force.
"I have no doubt that the Americans want to come here in search of oil and we must be ready to face them. If you want peace, prepare for war," Gonzalez said.
"That is why we asked for help from such countries as Russia and China. Russia is our friend, who has helped us in difficult times," the general said.
Between 2005 and 2007 Russia signed 12 contracts worth more than $4.4 billion to supply arms to Venezuela, including fighter aircraft, helicopters and Kalashnikov assault rifles.
In September, Russia agreed to provide Venezuela with a $1 billion loan so that Caracas could buy TOR-M1 air defense systems, Igla-S portable SAM systems, Il-78 aerial tankers and Il-76 military cargo aircraft.
"During the upcoming visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Venezuela in November this year we may finalize the details of deals on the procurement of [Russian] BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles and T-72 tanks," Gonzales said.
Venezuela and Russia have been recently expanding regular military ties as well.
Two Russian strategic bombers carried out patrols along the coast of South America during a visit to Venezuela in September and a naval task force led by the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy is on its way to the country for joint exercises in the Caribbean in November.
The two countries are also planning to conduct joint air force exercises in 2009.
Add to blog
You may place this material on your blog by copying the link.
Image Galleries: Classic Car Rally in St. Petersburg
Infographics: Global Warming: Predicting Future Disasters
Cartoons: Polar Explorer Day
The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.