Vietn am recently agreed to purchase six Kilo -class submarines from Russia , concluding discussions that had been in the works for a number of years. In an interesting twist, the project, announced this April, calls for Russia to complete construction of six submarines that were once planned for service in the Venezuelan Navy, and to instead turn the vessels over to Vietnam at an undisclosed date. This announcement is likely to have repercussions on at least four continents. In Venezuela, for example, the termination of the deal signifies a realization that falling oil prices and economic problems are throwing a wrench into Hugo Chavez's once proud dream of fielding a navy and military that might someday be capable of serving as more than just an irritant to the United States. This Russian deal with Vietnam is surely a relief to U.S. Navy planners, however, as it leaves six fewer quiet diesel submarines prowling potentially hostile South American waters. In Europe, meanwhile, the project is a significant step that allows Russian Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg to stay busy despite a global economic downturn and shrinking arms sales to other regions of the world. In Asia, the sale of the subs to Vietnam is most likely to upset neighboring China and will, along with the purchase from Russia of two Gepard -class frigates, allow the Vietnamese Navy to step into the 21st century while better protecting its regional maritime interests.