Yangon Businessman Acts as Go-Between for Belarus Arms Sales to Myanmar Military
By The Irrawaddy 5 October 2021
When the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution in June calling for an arms embargo against Myanmar, Belarus was the only the country to vote against it.
Many were taken aback by Belarus’s decision to side with the Myanmar military following their February 1 coup and subsequent lethal crackdowns against peaceful protesters. Even Russia and China – the two biggest arms suppliers to the Myanmar military – abstained in the UN vote.
Belarus, though, is a longtime partner of the Myanmar military. The relationship reportedly dates back to the previous military regime led by Senior General Than Shwe, which called itself the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). Belarus is the only country under authoritarian rule in Europe, with President Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko in power since 1994.
In 2011, Myanmar purchased 12 Russia-made second-hand MiG-29 fighter jets from Belarus, the same year that current coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing succeeded Snr. Gen. Than Shwe as the head of the military.
Dr. Aung Moe Myint, the founder of the Dynasty Group of Companies (DGC), emerged as the go-between for arms trading between Myanmar and Belarus around the same time. In 2015, he was appointed as Belarus’s Honorary Counsel to Myanmar.
No business details are known about the DGC except that the group is involved in construction, property and manufacturing. There is also no information about the DGC on the registry of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.
But Dr. Aung Moe Myint has close links to the military. He is the son of Lieutenant General Phone Myint, Minister for Home Affairs under the SLORC regime, and was previously married to a daughter of U Ko Lay, who was Yangon’s mayor in the SLORC era.
The DGC was jointly established by Dr. Aung Moe Myint and his brother U Hlaing Moe Myint in 1997, according to Open Corporates, a database of world companies.
U Hlaing Moe Myint is the founder of the Aus-link Myanmar Agency. Founded in 2013, it is a travel agency as well as an education service provider, according to its website.
Sources close to the military regime confirmed to The Irrawaddy that Dr. Aung Moe Myint is a central figure in the military’s procurement of armored vehicles, missiles and air defense systems from Belarus and Serbia.
In February 2020, Dr. Aung Moe Myint accompanied Myanmar’s Air Defense Forces commander Lieutenant General Tin Maung Win on his visit to Belarus.
The Myanmar delegation visited several defense enterprises in Belarus and “got acquainted with their capabilities for the development, production, repair and modernization of air defense systems,” according to an official Belarus government press release.
After the UN voted for an arms embargo to Myanmar, Dr. Aung Moe Myint visited Belarus’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mikalai Barysevich on June 25.
An IL-62 cargo plane belonging to the Belarusian cargo carrier Rada Airlines was spotted at Yangon Airport on February 10, just nine days after the junta’s coup, according to Myanmar activists. Although it is not known what the plane was carrying, many assume that it was transporting weapons to Myanmar.
Other sources said that the cargo plane was carrying Kvadrat-M surface-to-air missiles purchased from Belarus. The Irrawaddy was unable to confirm independently if Dr. Aung Moe Myint was behind those deals.
It was reported that Myanmar was the first country to buy Belarus’s Kvadrat-M surface-to-air missile system, a modernized upgrade of the Soviet-era 2K12 Kub system.
The Irrawaddy’s calls to the companies owned by Dr. Aung Moe Myint and U Hlaing Moe Myint went unanswered.
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