Belarus Clinches Billion-Dollar Military Contracts with Venezuela

Belarus has signed military contracts with Venezuela worth "over $1 billion" plus a cooperation agreement on oil extraction, security council secretary Viktor Sheiman said on Sept. 18.

"We signed agreements on military technical projects whose realization would allow us to obtain an economic effect of over $1 billion," Sheiman told Belarussian television.

"This would ensure orders for dozens of military industrial enterprises in Belarus for many years. We set up a good foundation for a continued, fruitful and mutually advantageous cooperation," said Sheiman, who visited Venezuela earlier this month.

Sheiman did not elaborate on the details of the agreements, adding however that another accord, "setting up a joint Belarussian-Venezuelan oil extraction enterprise" was also signed, and that experts from the east European ex-Soviet country were ready to develop Venezuelan oil fields.

"In the defense domain, Belarus could offer Venezuela optical material, radio-electronic equipment and MAZ trucks to transport military equipment," Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Russian Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, told AFP.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the creation of a "strategic alliance" with Belarus during his visit to Minsk in late June, voicing "solidarity" with his Belarussian counterpart and "friend,"....President Alexander Lukashenko.

Chavez then visited Moscow to sign accords worth some $3 billion, including a contract for 24 Russian Sukhoi Su-30 fighter planes.

[Source: Agence France-Presse, Minsk, 18Sep06]

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