Topic: Hugo Chavez visits Russia
Russian experts said contracts on supplies of new armaments to Venezuela could be signed during the visit, and that Venezuela could buy up to nine Project 636 Kilo-class diesel submarines.
"Five Project 636 submarines with missile munitions are likely to be bought," Konstantin Makiyenko, an expert with Russia's Technology Strategy Analysis Center, said. "But in the end Venezuela could buy nine submarines."
Russian business daily Kommersant said earlier in June that during his visit to Russia, Chavez could finalize a deal to purchase Russian diesel submarines for the Venezuelan Navy. The contract reportedly is for the supply of five Project 636 Kilo-class diesel submarines and four state-of-the-art Project 677 Amur submarines.
The value of the contracts, depending on the final size of the order, is estimated at $1-2 billion, the paper said, citing its own sources in the defense industry.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said earlier that Russia-Venezuela trade last year reached $90 million, and that both countries are interested in further mutually beneficial cooperation in the trade and economic sphere.
He said the fuel and energy sectors play a key role in the two countries' economies, adding that Russian energy companies Gazprom, LUKoil, Zarubezhneftegaz and others are increasing their presence on the Venezuelan market.
Venezuela is the world's second-largest importer of Russian military hardware after Algeria. In 2005-2006, it ordered $3.4 billion worth of hardware and weaponry from Russia, including 24 Su-30MK2V Flanker fighters, Tor-M1 air defense missile systems, Mi-26 Halo heavy transport helicopters, and 100,000 AK-103 Kalashnikov assault rifles.
The Project 636 design is a generally improved development of the Project 877EKM Kilo class that represents an interim design between the standard Kilo-class and the new Lada project.
The submarine has improved range, firepower, acoustic characteristics and reliability, and is actively promoted on world markets by the Russian state-run arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.
Russia has repeatedly stated that it would actively participate in the modernization of the Venezuelan armed forces until 2013.
Chavez said earlier speaking on the Hello President television show that he plans to meet with Russian business circles, and visit the lower house of parliament.
A Venezuelan Embassy official in Moscow said Chavez will be in Moscow June 28-29, and will visit the southern city of Rostov-on-Don June 30.
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