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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.

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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