After 14 years Russia fails to complete construction of Kalashnikov assault rifle factory in Venezuela

Construction of a Kalashnikov assault rifle factory in in Venezuela has stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an informed source in Caracas told Russian news agency Interfax.

"The project is being implemented, but the coronavirus has affected everything: personnel, supply of materials, required infrastructure," he said.

The agency's interlocutor could not name any new deadlines for completion of the construction.

In 2006, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez agreed to build two plants in Venezuela for licensed production of AK-103 assault rifles and 7.62 mm cartridges.

At the end of 2014, then-Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin pointed out to failures in the construction of these factories, due to which the completion deadlines were pushed until the end of 2015.

In the summer of 2015, the head of the contractor company, former Russian senator Sergei Popelnyukhov, was arrested on charges of embezzling more than 1 billion rubles ($13 million) allocated for the construction of Venezuelan factories.

In the spring of 2017, the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) noted that the construction of the plants was moving at a faster pace.

In June 2019, the head of Russian state-owned defense holding Rostec, Sergey Chemezov, said that the U.S. was trying to prevent this construction.

In August of the same year, FSVTS director Dmitry Shugaev said that the Kalashnikov plant in Venezuela would be launched 2020-2021, taking into account the situation in the country.

  Venezuela, Kalashnikov, Russia