Russian officials Wednesday insisted the launch of the plant to manufacture Kalashnikov rifles in Venezuela had to be postponed during 2021 as a consequence of sanctions imposed by the United States, but the final works have been gaining pace lately thanks to cooperation from local authorities.
The Russian government expects to start producing Kalashnikov rifles in Venezuela next year, explained Valeria Reshétnikova, a spokeswoman for the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation.
“Russian specialists have started preparing the process equipment and assembly lines. We hope to launch it in 2022, ”said Reshétnikova.
Reshétnikova claimed the delays have also been due to the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to sanctions from the United States.
Vvenezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's envoy Adán Chávez had said in Octoiber during a trip to Moscow that the factory should be completed by the second half of 2022. “We continue to seek solutions together. Some of these solutions have been achieved, especially the financial one,” Chávez had said.
Chávez had also assured that the United States blockade had limited the flow of financial resources needed for projects such as the rifle plant.
We have managed with the support of friendly governments to break this economic-financial blockade in some way, but it continues to cause us strong economic difficulties, Chávez had said.
This factory was a project devised by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. In 2006, he even visited Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the iconic gun..
Venezuela was also affected due to the fall in the price of oil, which first forced Moscow to grant Caracas a loan for the purchase of weapons and then to restructure part of its debt.
The delivery deadlines of the Kalashnikov assault rifle factory in Venezuela have also been postponed several times due to corruption scandals.
In April 2009, the Russian company Rostec, which was in charge of the works, launched an investigation because it observed a series of robberies, reported the head of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office, Dmitri Demeshin.
Former Russian Senator Sergei Popelniújov, who was supposed to guarantee the development of the project, was convicted of the alleged theft of approximately 16 million dollars. He claimed the factories were not built on time due to the extremely high inflation that affected the country.