Hugo Chávez, the ardently anti-American President of Venezuela, arrives in Russia today to sign a billion-dollar arms deal that has infuriated and alarmed the US. The self-styled leftist revolutionary will sign an agreement with President Putin to buy 30 Sukhoi Su30 fighter jets and 30 military helicopters worth $1 billion (£540 million).Re yesterday's meeting between Chávez and Lukashenko, Page notes that Chavez "proposed forming a 'combat team' with President Lukashenko, whom Washington calls 'Europe’s last dictator'.
The two leaders will also discuss plans to build two Kalashnikov factories in Venezuela — to add to the 100,000 Kalashnikov AK103 assault rifles that Venezuela has bought from Russia in the past year. The arms deals — and the visit by Señor Chávez — are the latest evidence of Mr Putin’s drive to re-establish Russia as a counterbalance to the West in international affairs.
Update: Apparently the deal may be worth up to $3bn, and include surface-to-air missiles and a submarine.