Myanmar Junta Chief Visits Moscow for Security Conference

By The Irrawaddy 21 June 2021

Myanmar coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing on Sunday headed to Russia, one of the regime’s main supporters and arms suppliers, to attend a conference on international security in Moscow amid growing military ties between the two countries.

The visit comes just days after the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for a halt in arms sales to Myanmar in response to the regime’s violent crackdown on protesters since the military coup on Feb. 1. Russia was among 36 countries that abstained.

Myanmar state-run media said the visit—Min Aung Hlaing’s second foreign trip since the coup—was being made at the invitation of the Russian defense minister. The senior general flew to Jakarta in April for an ASEAN Summit.

The Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS-2021) will be held from June 22 to 24.

State media said the senior general will hold meetings with military and civilian officials and tour significant places in the Russian Federation including universities, factories and workshops during the trip. Joining him is Myanmar Navy chief Admiral Moe Aung, who will attend the International Maritime Defense Show (IMDS) to be held in St. Petersburg from June 23 to 27.

The IMDS showcases products and services including naval and commercial shipbuilding, weapons and armaments.

In May, Myanmar Air Force chief Maung Maung Kyaw flew to Moscow to attend the HeliRussia exhibition, Russia’s largest helicopter exhibition, from May 20-22.

Russia has continued to support the Myanmar regime since the military coup that ousted the country’s democratically elected government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The coup has led to natiowide anti-regime protests. In March, Russian Deputy Defense Secretary Alexander Fomin visited Myanmar in the first high-profile visit to the country by a foreign official since the coup.

While overall trade between Russia and Myanmar remains minimal, the countries have recently deepened their military cooperation and Russia is now the number two military exporter to Myanmar behind China.

Also joining Min Aung Hlaing’s trip to Russia are the mayor of Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw and the country’s deputy minister for investment and foreign economic relations U Than Aung Kyaw. Their participation in the trip comes several days after a meeting between Myanmar’s industry minister and the Russian ambassador to the country to discuss bilateral economic relations including the production of medicines under the respective ministries of the two countries and cooperation on rubber and garment production.

Last week, Russian ambassador to Myanmar Dr. Nikolay Listopadov and Dr. Charlie Than, the regime-appointed minister of industry, discussed the resumption of operations at a now-defunct steel factory in Myanmar’s Shan State. The plant, located near the Shan State capital Taunggyi, is a joint iron exploitation and processing project between military-owned Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) and Russian state-owned company Tyazhpromexport.

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