Myanmar Junta Leader to Meet Putin in Russia

By The Irrawaddy 6 September 2022

Myanmar regime leader Min Aung Hlaing, who is now in Russia on a working visit, will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, according to the Kremlin’s press service.

It will be Min Aung Hlaing’s first meeting with Putin, and the Russian president will be the first leader of a powerful country to host the junta boss, who has been shunned internationally for his military coup and brutal crackdowns on opponents. So far the Myanmar junta has killed more than 2,000 people for rejecting military rule.

Min Aung Hlaing has been in Russia since Sunday to attend the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF-2022), an annual meeting in Vladivostok to encourage foreign investment in the Russian Far East. This is his third visit to Russia since last year’s military coup. It has become the only country he can travel to since the takeover.

The Kremlin said that along with the Russian president, “the chairman of the State Administration Council, Prime Minister of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar Min Aung Hlaing”, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Mongolian Prime Minister Luvsannamsrayn Oyun-Erdene and the chairman of China’s National People’s Congress, Li Zhanshu, will attend the forum.

It said Putin will hold bilateral meetings with the invited foreign leaders on the sidelines of the EEF on Wednesday.

“The two leaders [Putin and Min Aung Hlaing] will attend a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum,” the statement said.

Russia is one of the junta’s major arms suppliers after China. The two countries have resisted attempts by the UN Security Council to pass resolutions against the Myanmar regime.

The junta has grown closer to Russia since the coup, expanding ties not only militarily but also on the business front. Currently, the junta is trying to import oil from Russia to solve fuel shortages at home while inviting Russian companies to participate in oil and gas projects in Myanmar. It is also promoting tourism, and negotiations to open direct flights between the two countries are now under way, Tass reported, quoting Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov.

The junta has backed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since the beginning and seemed to reiterate this support during the coup leader’s current visit.

On Monday, Ushakov told the press that Russia and Myanmar’s positions on key international and regional issues are either close or identical, adding that Naypyitaw understood the causes of “the special military operation in Ukraine” and saw that “it is well-grounded and rejects the West’s anti-Russian sanctions.”

Since 2013, Min Aung Hlaing has been to Russia nine times, including the current visit.