Venezuelan Defense Minister Denies Submarine Purchase

Venezuela’s Defense Minister, General Raúl Isaias Baduel, denied recent press reports that Venezuela has ordered nine Russian submarines.

By Gregory Wilpert – Venezuelanalysis.com
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Caracas, June 15, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Venezuela’s Defense Minister, General Raúl Isaias Baduel, denied recent press reports that Venezuela has ordered nine Russian submarines.

Baduel made the comments yesterday during a book launch, where he said, “I am not confirming [the submarine purchase]. What I am saying is that in accordance with the methodology that we apply in our institution, we must permanently evaluate the threats that could impose themselves on our supreme interests and for the moment there is no plan for the acquisition of these systems.”

Instead, Baduel confirmed Venezuela’s recent primary weapons purchases, of 24 Russian Sukhoi fighter jets, 35 helicopters, assault rifles, and an assault rifle and munitions factory.

Reports that Venezuela was looking into the purchase of Russian submarines first surfaced two days ago when the Russian newspaper Kommersant cited unnamed sources in the Russian shipbuilding industry. According to the report, Venezuela had already ordered nine diesel submarines, whose main purpose would be to overcome a possible U.S. naval blockade. The purchase agreement would supposedly be signed June 29, during a visit of President Chavez to Russia.

Chavez’s main military advisor, General Alberto Müller Rojas, appeared to give credence to the report when he told the press yesterday that the Chavez government was indeed evaluating the purchase of the submarines. However, they had not been ordered, as was initially reported.

“The possibilities are being analyzed, but until now there are no resources allocated for this negotiation,” said Rojas.

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