Venezuela has received thousands of missiles and rocket launchers from Russia in an effort to prepare military forces for a possible war with Colombia, according to President Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela has been claiming for some time that Colombia is preparing to wage war on it, a threat denied by both Colombia and the US.

In a televised interview President Chavez said: “Colombia is preparing a war against us, preparing is one of the best ways to neutralise it.”

The president, without disclosing the type of missiles, said that the Russian-made missiles also include Igla-1S surface-to-air missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.

“Russian tanks, including T-72s, will be arriving to strengthen our armoured divisions,” he said.

Since 2005 Venezuela has bought more than $4bn worth of Russian arms, which include 24 Sukhoi fighter jets, dozens of attack helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles.