Ukraine Wants Closer Military Ties with Burma, Expert Says

By Saw Yan Naing & Oksana Grytsenko 13 February 2017

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — Ukraine will export new armored vehicles to the Burma Army, and the Eastern European nation is enthusiastic about boosting its military cooperation with Burma, according to a prominent Ukrainian military expert.

“The Ukraine and Burma indeed have intensified their military cooperation recently,” said Sergiy Zgurets, who is the director of the Center for Army Conversion and Disarmament Studies based in Kiev.

“Ukraine fulfilled the obligations of their previous military contract, which was signed in 2013,” he said. “Now the countries have a second contract.”

Zgurets stated that Ukraine will deliver new armored vehicles to the Burma Army, but he would not name the exact model of the vehicles or their number.

“It’s a sensitive issue because Ukraine’s army also needs these armored vehicles, but the state-owned arms company, Ukroboronprom, is selling them to Burma to earn money,” Zgurets told The Irrawaddy.

In May 2016, the Ukrainian blog site Military Navigator reported that the Burma Army was interested in buying more BTR-3U armored personnel carriers. The BTR-3U is a modern 8-wheeled vehicle armed with a 30 millimeter canon and capable of carrying anti-tank missiles.

According to Military Navigator, the Burma Army already operates about 50 BTR-3 vehicles and has plans to acquire more. The website posted photos of Burma Army soldiers conducting training exercises alongside the BTR-3 armored vehicles.

On Jan. 12, Burma President U Htin Kyaw said that his government would promote a stronger bilateral relationship with Ukraine after meeting with Mr. Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s foreign affairs minister, at the presidential palace in Naypyidaw.

Mr. Klimkin also met with Burma’s military chief, Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, during his visit to Naypyidaw.

The President’s Office website announced on Jan. 13 that Burmese and Ukrainian officials “discussed matters related to bilateral relations and cooperation, promotion of people-to-people relations, the tourism sector and investment opportunities in Myanmar [Burma].”

In a sign of the two nations’ growing relationship, Ukraine also opened its first consulate in Rangoon on Jan. 11, a day before the Ukrainian foreign minister paid his visit to Naypyidaw.

Although Burma and Ukraine established diplomatic relations in 1999, until recently Ukraine conducted most of its Burma-related affairs through the Ukrainian embassy in Thailand.

Oksana Grytsenko, a Ukrainian journalist at Kyiv Post reported from Kiev, capital of Ukraine.