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Russia says support for Venezuela unchanged
March 6, 2013, 12:44 pm

Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister signs a condolence book at Venezuela's embassy in Moscow [AP]

Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister signs a condolence book at Venezuela’s embassy in Moscow [AP]

Russia vows to continue military-technical cooperation with Venezuela even after the death of the country’s socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

“We believe the positive, constructive and mutually-beneficial agenda will be a constant for any Venezuelan leadership,” said Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson.

Chavez, died on Tuesday at the age of 58, after an almost two-year battle with cancer.

Moscow has had strong traditional ties with Caracas, with defence, oil exploration and transportation being critical areas.

Some of the bilateral contracts include the construction of arms factories and servicing centres for military equipment.

According to Russian experts, Venezuela is expected to become the world’s second largest buyer of Russian weaponry after India by 2015.

Condoling the death of Hugo Chavez Vladimir Putin called him an exceptional leader and statesman and Russia’s good friend.

“He was an uncommon and strong man who looked to the future and always set for himself the highest objectives,” Putin said.

Putin has sent his profound condolences to Vice President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan people.

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s prime minister said Chavez had devoted his life to the battle for “justice and equality.”

“We share the pain of your loss – we will always remember this wonderful person, patriot and citizen,” he said in a message of condolence to the Venezulean people.

President Putin also praised Chavez’s personal efforts to lay a solid foundation for the partnership between the two countries, encourage active political contacts and get major humanitarian and economic projects underway, and said that the two countries need to keep following this road now, strengthening and developing their ties.

Earlier this year Russia’s state-run oil company Rosneft announced its plans to increase its investments in Venezuela.

Igor Sechin, chief executive of Rosneft said the company is looking to invest $10 billion in Venezuela in the coming years, beginning with the Mariscal Sucre gas project off the coast.

In 2005-2007 Venezuela struck several deals with Russia over the purchase of Russian armaments. The $4 billion arms deal with Russia, included Sukhoi fighter jets, combat helicopters, and over 100,000 light weapons, primarily the famous AK-103 assault rifles and a license to produce them in Venezuela.

In 2010 Chavez secured a $2.2 billion loan to buy Russians weapons for the Venezuelan army.

The death of Venezuela’s charismatic leader has caused wide-spread reactions worldwide.

After his re-election in December 2006, Chavez stepped up his verbal and diplomatic confrontation with the United States, and forged closer ties with countries outside the region like Russia and China.

Daria Chernyshova