CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that Venezuela has acquired Russian-made surface-to-air missiles and announced the creation of an elite military unit trained to use the new weapons.
Chavez said the missiles are for self-defense and denied that Venezuela poses a military threat to other countries.
"We don't want wars with anyone, but we're obligated to equip ourselves and have a military that is increasingly dedicated to the country," Chavez said at a military parade in Caracas.
The self-guided, portable missiles weighing about 42 pounds reach approximately 19,500 feet, Venezuela's state-run ABN news agency reported.
"They have great power in the mountains, hills or coasts to stop any attempted aerial aggression against our country," Chavez said. "One man or woman can operate and carry it."
He did not say how many missiles were purchased or how much they cost.
Venezuela has bought more than $4 billion in Russian arms in recent years, including 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, helicopters and Sukhoi fighter jets, and negotiations are under way for the purchase of Russian-made T-72 battle tanks and armored reconnaissance vehicles.