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Venezuela makes a deal with Russia

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: Venezuela's making a pretty penny on oil. And it's going to spend some of that money buying fighter jets and helicopters. Guess where they're getting those aircraft? Russia. From our Americas Desk at WLRN, Dan Grech reports.


DAN GRECH: Today Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will buy 30 helicopters and 30 advanced fighter jets from Russia.

The deal's worth a billion dollars, and that's money US arms makers would have once seen.

The US sold Venezuela F-16 fighter jets in the past but now won't even sell Chavez the replacement parts. So Chavez simply dumped his air force and dipped into his oil wells.

Latin America expert Carl Cira:

CARL CIRA:"Chavez simply is the only one around who's got limitless cash so that he can afford to scrap these enormously expensive weapons systems and simply turn to the other major purveyor in the world, which is Russia."

Chavez says he needs the hardware to defend against a potential US attack.

Russia, for its part, wants to demonstrate its independence from Washington.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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