August 26, 2007 / 9:33 PM / in 11 years

Venezuela to buy 5,000 Russian sniper rifles

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday said he plans to buy 5,000 Dragunov sniper rifles from Russia to protect the oil-rich nation from a possible U.S. invasion.

The self-styled socialist revolutionary and open critic of Washington has bolstered the OPEC nation’s weaponry by buying planes, helicopters and assault rifles from Russia to prepare for a guerrilla-style resistance to a foreign invader.

“I’m going to buy 5,000 Dragunov rifles from Russia ... with telescopic sight, the best in the world, with infrared night-view,” Chavez said during his weekly Sunday broadcast held on a beach along Venezuela’s eastern coast.

“We will knock out any imperialist that approaches.”

The United States has cut arms sales to Venezuela and blocked several attempts by Chavez to acquire military aircraft technology on the grounds that Venezuela has not adequately explained why it needs the equipment.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Hemispheric Affairs Stephen Johnson said during a recent visit to Colombia that countries in the region should be concerned about Venezuela’s multi-billion dollar weapons purchases.

Venezuela last year purchased 24 Sukhoi fighters jets and 100,000 Kalashnikov AK-103 assault rifles from Russia, and is currently negotiating the purchase of submarines.

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