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Hugo Chavez and Red Heat PDF Print E-mail
Peace News
Thursday, 17 March 2005 08:58
Hugo Chavez and Red Heat

The United States is once again claiming that Russian weapons may end up in the wrong hands. US General Ben Craddock has expressed concern about Russian-Venezuelan cooperation in the military sphere, and specifically that Russian-made weapons exported to Venezuela will end up in the hands of Columbian revolutionaries.
HUGO CHAVEZ AND RED HEAT





Nezavisimaya Gazeta


March 17, 2005


by Andrei Terekhov and Vladimir Ivanov





Washington accuses Russia over arms deals with foreign countries





The United States is once again claiming that Russian weapons


may end up in the wrong hands. General Ben Craddock has expressed


concern about Russian-Venezuelan cooperation in the military sphere,


and doubts that 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles and other weapons


will end up in the Venezuelan military. "If Venezuela is importing


weapons to defend its sovereignty and borders, it is of course free


to do so, like any other country. If it is exporting instability,


then the matter is different," Craddock told the Armed Forces


Committee of the Senate last Tuesday. In fact, Craddock essentially


repeated the statement the US State Department released in February,


the ones purporting that weapons from Russia "may have a


destabilizing effect" on the situation in the region. Craddock made


his statement several days after the announcement that Moscow was


selling 10 helicopters to Venezuela. Venezuelan Defense Minister


Jorje Louis Garcia Carneiro and Sergei Chemezov of Rosoboroneksport


signed the contract on March 10.





Washington has been raising the matter of Russia's military


cooperation with Syria and Venezuela for months already. The


Americans are concerned that Russian weapons may end up in the hands


of Hezbollah via Syria or Colombian revolutionaries via Venezuela.


Moscow in its turn claims that it doesn't plan to sell Iglas to


Syria and that the Strelets complexes whose sale to Damascus is


being discussed at this point pose no threat to Israel, Washington's


ally in the region.





The same goes for Venezuela. Mikhail Troyansky of the Foreign


Ministry describes Washington's concerns as "artificial and


groundless." He said: "We explained our position clearly in the


February 11 memorandum. These suspicions apply to absolutely all


weapons sold in the international market." Troyansky emphasizes that


Venezuela's neighbors are not at all concerned about the prospect,


and that Russia is operating within the framework of the


international rules for arms exports. "The claims that the arms


deliveries will destabilize the situation are ridiculous, since


America is selling many more weapons to some of Venezuela's


neighbors," Troyansky said.





In the meantime, new operations of the so-called "Russian


mafia" are feeding Washington's anxiety. Yesterday, the American


media reported arrests of 18 members of an international criminal


group charged with an attempt to smuggle $500,000 worth of military


hardware into the country. The detainees claim that the weapons they


expected from Russia allegedly included air defense systems, grenade


launchers, machine guns, and so on. New York District Attorney David Kelly says that the United States is working together with foreign governments to locate the shipment. "It seems that we are dealing with people from Eastern


European military circles," said Kelly.





Christian Spice of the South African Republic and Arthur


Solomonjan of Armenia are the main suspects in a case the FBI has


been working on since last March. According to Solomonjan, the


weapons were expected by ship from Russia (Chechnya). Spice claims


that he has contacts with the Russian mafia in New York. In fact,


there are even the reports that along with the conventional weapons


the suspects planned to import enriched uranium, allegedly for a


dirty bomb. The criminal network was exposed by the FBI that


infiltrated it and whose agent posed as the buyer.





Vitaly Shlykov formerly of the GRU (Russian army intelligence)


maintains that control over Russian arms export is somewhat more


effective nowadays than it was in the 1990s. According to some


estimates, more than $1 billion worth of weapons were illegitimately


sold then. Shlykov says that these weapons are usually sold again by


the countries that buy it from Russia openly and legitimately.


Unlike America, Russia lacks an effective mechanism of monitoring


the routes the weapons it is selling take. "This is the task that


has to be handled by the Foreign Ministry," Shlykov explained.


"Unfortunately, it doesn't include a special intelligence service


keeping an eye on the sale of weapons to the third countries. The US


State Department has a service like that."





Emil Dabagjan of the Latin America Institute at the Russian


Academy of Sciences says that Washington is annoyed to see that


Venezuela, which used to buy only American weapons, is looking for


alternative suppliers. Dabagjan says that even president of


Venezuela admits that the United States itself would like to sell


weapon to Caracas - but at a higher price.





Last Updated on Thursday, 17 March 2005 08:58
 

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