April 6, 2006:
After receiving initial deliveries of Russian AK-103 assault rifles, the Venezuelans quickly discovered that some of the weapons are not new, but older models "remanufactured" to newer standards. As a result, they have suspended the contract (for 100,000 rifles). The Russians have long pulled stunts like this, and have acquired a shady reputation as a result. Even some of their major customers, like India, get hit, and come back with lawsuits and cancellations and renegotiations. Apparently the Russian arms industry can't resist any opportunity to put one over on a customer. These scams often work, but when they don't, the blowback is ugly. In this case, the Russians may believe that that Venezuelan president Chavez has alienated too many other weapons suppliers, and will tolerate some Russian skullduggery. Apparently the Russians missed all the Chinese arms merchants visiting Venezuela lately.