‘Friendly ties’: Myanmar’s top general to visit Russia

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Military leader Min Aung Hlaing will hold talks with Russian officials to ‘further cement cooperation’ between the countries.

The leader of Myanmar’s ruling generals will travel to Russia next week for economic talks as both governments face diplomatic isolation over militaristic moves.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing will attend the Eastern Economic Forum in the far-eastern city of Vladivostok, the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported on Saturday.

Representatives from China, India, Japan, Kazakhstan and other countries will also attend.

The general will hold talks with Russian government officials to “further cement the cooperation” and “friendly ties” between the two countries’ economies and governments, the news report said.

Since the coup that removed Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government in February last year, Myanmar has faced Western sanctions and a downgrade in relations.

Min Aung Hlaing is unlikely to be invited to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in November with the group frustrated over the generals’ failure to make progress on an agreement aimed at resolving the country’s political crisis.

‘Stabilise’ the country

Myanmar has been in chaos and its economy paralysed as the military regime moves to crush resistance. More than 2,200 people have been killed in the crackdown.

Russia, meanwhile, is under a variety of international sanctions after its February invasion of Ukraine.

Since then, Myanmar’s ruling generals have sought to deepen ties with major ally and arms supplier Moscow, which the military has claimed was “justified”.

Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing visited Moscow in July, where he reportedly met officials from Russia’s space agency Roscosmos and nuclear agencies, while second-in-command Soe Win also visited late last month. Russian officials were also invited to Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day in March.

During a trip to Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw in early August, Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov backed the military’s efforts to “stabilise” the country and hold another national poll next year.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned the international community to reject “sham elections”.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won the last elections in November 2020 by a landslide. The military claims there were irregularities but election officials and experts have found no evidence for that.

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