Venezuela's Chavez secures $4 bn Russian loan

7th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia has granted Venezuela a new $4-billion line of credit for "military and technical cooperation," the South American nation's leader Hugo Chavez said.

The two countries also signed accords late Thursday to accelerate oil production in Colombia's Orinoco belt and explore for offshore gas.

During a signing ceremony with Russian officials, Chavez thanked Moscow for the latest offer and for previous loans, saying that prior to the assistance "Venezuela was unarmed."

"We have the right to equip our defense forces. It is an obligation for me as the head of state and the commander of the armed forces," Chavez said.

He said $2 billion dollars would be available next year and the other half in 2013.

Between 2005 and 2007 Venezuela reached deals to buy $4 billion worth of arms from Russia, including Sukhoi fighter jets, combat helicopters and guns.

The Chavez government also secured a $2.2 billion loan in 2010 to purchase Russian T-72 tanks and an undisclosed number of S-300 antiaircraft missiles.

Chavez, a leftist firebrand who often rails against the "imperialist" United States, has said Venezuela needs to guard its vast oil and mineral wealth.

The Venezuelan-Russian joint oil venture Petromiranda hopes to begin producing 50,000 barrels a day in the Orinoco belt by May 2012, eventually rising to 450,000 barrels per day.

Venezuela has also agreed to allow Russia's Gazprom to take part in offshore natural gas exploration.

© 2011 AFP

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