Caracas, Venezuela — Venezuela is buying helicopters, boats and military transport planes in defense deals worth about $2.7 billion, modernizing its military as tensions grow between leftist President Hugo Chavez and the United States.
Flush with oil profits but blocked from buying U.S. arms, Chavez is increasingly looking to countries like Russia and Spain as suppliers.
A cargo ship carrying 30,000 Russian-made Kalashnikov assault rifles is headed to Venezuela with the first shipment of an order totaling 100,000 guns to arrive by year's end. The military is looking to buy more submarines, and Chavez is planning an even bigger deal for Russian fighter jets.
Washington has pointed to the mounting defense deals with concern and urged Russia and Spain not to do business with Venezuela. Both countries have shrugged off the warnings.