(RIA Novosti) - Venezuela's president said Wednesday he planned to sign an agreement Thursday in Moscow on the construction of a Kalashnikov assault rifle assembly plant in his country.
Hugo Chavez, who arrived Wednesday in Izhevsk, the capital of the Republic of Udmurtia about 700 miles east of Moscow and one of Russia's leading defense-industry cities, made a tour of the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant (IMP), which designs and produces most of the Russian Army's small arms, and met with the plant's management, reports Trend.
The outspoken South American leader, who was elected president in 1998 , is on a tour of eastern Europe in a bid to expand ties with the region, which is home to some of the world's leading defense-industry plants and has considerable mineral wealth.
The Izhevsk plant had already delivered to Venezuela over 30,000 AK-103 automatic rifles in late June under a contract for the supply of 100,000 automatic rifles.
Chavez, who met at the plant with designer of assault rifles Mikhail Kalashnikov, praised the plant for the quality of its production and added that he was also considering the possibility of purchasing Tor M1 air defense missile systems from Russia.
The Tor-M1 is a fifth-generation integrated mobile air defense system designed for operation at medium, low and very low altitudes against fixed/rotary wing aircraft, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicle), guided missiles and other high-precision weapons.
Oil-rich Venezuela is a major purchaser of Russian weapons and hardware. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said last week that Russia had signed contracts on supplies of military planes and helicopters to Venezuela worth over $1 billion.
Izhevsk is the second stop of Chavez during his Russia tour. On Tuesday, he visited the southern Russian city of Volgograd, where he paid a visit to the Volgograd Tractor Plant, which produces tanks and other military vehicles.