Myanmar Regime Chief Vows to Boost Ties With Russia

By The Irrawaddy 17 February 2023

Myanmar junta chief Min Aung Hlaing vowed to focus constantly on enhancing friendly relations and cooperation with Russia, while speaking at a Myanmar-Russia Friendship and Cooperation Forum held in the capital Naypyitaw on Thursday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Myanmar and Russia.

Until the 2021 coup the relationship between Myanmar and Russia was limited to arms deals and the training of Myanmar military officers at Russian academies and universities.

But since the putsch, Russia has become Myanmar’s major arms supplier, and cooperation is expanding in various other sectors from diplomacy to trade and energy. Ties between the military regime and Russia have become stronger since Min Aung Hlaing met Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin for the first time in September 2022 in Russia.

Min Aung Hlaing praised Putin as “a leader of the world”, while Putin called Myanmar “a reliable long-term friend” of Moscow in Southeast Asia.

Despite being shunned by much of the world including China, the traditional ally of successive military regimes in Myanmar, Min Aung Hlaing has visited Russia three times since the military takeover and cooperation between the two pariah nations has increased dramatically.

Now the Myanmar military appears closer to realizing its long-held nuclear ambitions, with the country’s first nuclear technology information center recently opened in Yangon with the help of Russia’s state-run nuclear corporation Rosatom. High-level Russian delegations have also made frequent visits to Myanmar over the past year.

Speaking on Thursday at the opening of the Myanmar-Russia forum in Naypyitaw, Min Aung Hlaing said that he was grateful to Russian leaders who always stand by Myanmar to overcome the challenges posed by some big countries who want the utter devastation of Myanmar.

The junta boss said that Myanmar would continue to expand friendship associations with Russia, exchange visits with Russia’s government and army, and further increase cooperation in trade, religion, culture and tourism.

Myanmar established diplomatic relations with Russia in 1948, the year the country gained independence from Britain. The two countries will celebrate the 75th anniversary of diplomatic ties on February 18.

Although Myanmar’s military regime says it exercises an independent, active and non-aligned foreign policy, it has backed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.