Venezuela intends to deploy new Russian-made tanks and combat helicopters to the border with Colombia.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said they were expecting the arrival of the first shipment of tanks from Russia, which will be sent to Barracas in the state of Barinas to reinforce a motorised infantry brigade.

“In addition, attack helicopters arriving from Russia will be deployed along the Colombian border,” he said last week on television.

In September 2009, Venezuela secured a $2.2bn loan to purchase 92 T-72 main battle tanks, an undisclosed number of Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) and a variety of air defense systems, including the advanced S-300 complexes.