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Russia gives Venezuela super-favorable arms deal terms

By LEANDER SCHAERLAECKENS, UPI Correspondent

BRUSSELS, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Russia gives Venezuela super-favorable arms deal terms.

Russia has lent Venezuela $1 billion to buy more military equipment. No deadline for repayment of the huge loan was announced. The terms of the agreement appear exceptionally favorable to Caracas.

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The Moscow business newspaper Kommersant reported that pro-Russian and extremely anti-American Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez would use the loan to buy anti-aircraft systems, armored personnel vehicles and fighter jets.

Chavez just paid his second visit in two months to Moscow. Russia also sent two supersonic Tupolev Tu-160 White Swan -- NATO designation Blackjack -- nuclear bombers on an extended visit to Venezuela, where the aircraft carried out maneuvers in the Caribbean Sea with dummy missiles. A squadron of two modern Russian warships is also being dispatched to visit Venezuela.

Russian officials said the latest $1 billion arms deal will bring the total of Russian arms sales to Venezuela to $5.4 billion.

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Russia to replace Nicaragua's weapons.

Russia has agreed to help Nicaragua repair or replace its aging arsenal. Much of the equipment was bought from the Soviet Union during the communist Sandinista regime's long struggle against the U.S.-backed Contra rebels in the 1980s, and half of it was kept all these years despite heavy American pressure to get rid of it. The other half was destroyed in exchange for U.S. aid.

Most of the old Nicaraguan arsenal consists of SAM-7 surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles. There are an estimated 1,000 missiles remaining.

Russia claims that it isn't trying to arm Nicaragua nor solidify the position of reinstalled Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who was a Soviet-backed Sandinista revolutionary when he was in power from 1985 through 1990.

Earlier this month Ortega won more favor with Moscow when he recognized the independence of the breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the former Soviet republic of Georgia in the Caucasus.


Russia sells anti-tank missiles to Turkey.

Russia has sold 80 laser-guided anti-tank missile systems to Turkey in a $70 million deal, Defense News reports. It was the first Russian weapons sale to Turkey since 1997.

Although no announcement was ever made, the deal allegedly was agreed on about a month ago when it became clear that Russian state-run Rosoboronexport had beaten out Raytheon, Rafael and Danel for the contract. Who, if anybody, has won the tender to supply 800 missiles and service the systems is still unclear.

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Turkey is believed to be purchasing the semiautomatic Kornet E system -- NATO designation AT-14 -- which is made by the Tula Instrument Design Bureau KBP.

The same Tula bureau once sold a series of Kornet Es to Syria, which then supplied them to Hezbollah, the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Shiite Army of God in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah then used the AT-14s on Israeli troops during its brief conflict with Israel in July 2006. The U.S. government imposed sanctions against the Tula company for the sale to Syria.


Russia, India struggle on arms deals.

Russia remains deadlocked in its arms negotiations with India on several deals, Defense News said.

The report said negotiations remain deadlocked over such deals as the export to Delhi of Russian SMERCH multi-launch rocket systems, a new air defense system for India, the supply of a new Russian fifth-generation fighter jet to the Indian air force, Russian missiles and Mi-17 helicopters.

However, India is believed close to buying 29 more Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29Ks combat aircraft. It previously ordered 16 of the aircraft.

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