MOSCOW: Russia has not supplied new shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile systems to Venezuela, a Russian defense industry expert said on Monday.
The Associated Press quoted President Hugo Chavez as saying Sunday that Venezuela had acquired Russian-made surface-to-air missiles and announced the creation of an elite military unit trained to use the new weapons.
Chavez did not say how many missiles had been purchased or how much they cost but reportedly said the missiles were for self-defense.
Anatoly Aksenov, a senior adviser to the general director of Russian arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport, said the AP report apparently referred to Strela (Grail) SAM systems, and denied that any such systems had been supplied.
He said, however, that less advanced Russian-made Igla SAM systems had long been in service with the Venezuela military.
“They were supplied to the Venezuelan side a long time ago and have been shown [at a military parade in Venezuela],” he said.
In the past few years Venezuela has bought more than $4 billion worth of arms and military equipment from Russia.
The Strela (Grail) is a man-portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude surface-to-air missile system with an effective range of approximately 6,000 meters.
The Igla (Grouse) system is a simplified version with a range of about 3,500 meters.