MOSCOW — Arms exports to Venezuela may reach as much as $5 billion, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday, a few days after he traveled to the country.
Putin visited Venezuela late last week to meet with President Hugo Chavez and pledged to sell more weapons to the country but gave no concrete figures."Our delegation has just returned from Venezuela, and the total volume of orders may exceed $5 billion," Putin said in televised remarks.
Russia on Friday agreed to lend Venezuela up to $2.2 billion for the new arms deals.
Hugo Chavez's government has already bought more than $4 billion in Russian weapons since 2005, including helicopters, fighter jets and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles.
The Venezuelan arms deals are one of the many irritants in US-Russian relations.
Putin said in Caracas on Friday that Russia appreciates its good relations with the United States, but if the United States does not want to sell arms to Venezuela, it's only good for Russia — which is willing to.
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