September 15, 2023

Myanmar Junta’s Relationship With Russia Reaches New ‘Peak’

The Irrawaddy

The relationship between Myanmar’s junta and Russia has peaked, the regime’s foreign minister Than Swe told a press conference in Moscow on Thursday during a visit that saw him and his Russian counterpart praise cooperation between the two pariah states.

Than Swe was visiting Russia at the invitation of his Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

On Thursday, the pair discussed cooperation in 12 sectors, including defense, security, tourism and people-to-people connectivity, economy and trade, banking, energy, industry, education, and information. They also discussed establishing Myanmar Consulates General in St Petersburg and Novosibirsk.

Than Swe, a former military official who was part of the 16th intake of Defense Services Academy, thanked Russia for “its principled position, understanding and consistent support of Myanmar in both bilateral and multilateral contexts, the United Nations in particular,” according to junta media.

Lavrov told the press conference: “We particularly focused on cooperation through financial and banking structures, including our countries’ central banks,”

The US sanctioned the Russian central bank in 2022, freezing its assets held in US financial institutions. The sanctions also apply to financial institutions outside the US that hold US dollars for Russia’s central bank.

Than Swe told the press conference that the relationship between the two pariah nations had peaked, and that he understands the current situation in Russia.

Lavrov said: “We confirmed our appreciation of the balanced, objective position of our Myanmar friends in connection with what is happening in Ukraine.”

Than Swe departed Moscow for Minsk, Belarus on Thursday evening, according to junta media. He is visiting Belarus, another key arms supplier of the junta, at the invitation of his counterpart there.

Before Than Swe visited Moscow, five junta ministers and two Union-level officials also arrived in Russia. They reached agreements with their counterparts on cooperation in finance and banking, tourism development and electoral cooperation.

Direct flights between the two countries were launched for the first time in 30 years on September 5.

Ties between the pariah states have increased by leaps and bounds since junta boss Min Aung Hlaing met Putin in September last year.

Than Swe’s visit also coincided with the arrival of North Korea’s dictator in Russia’s east.

Kim was personally invited to Russia by President Vladimir Putin.

The junta recently appointed a new ambassador to North Korea. Tin Maung Swe, its ambassador to China, will concurrently serve as ambassador to North Korea.

This, along with Kim’s arrival in Russia, has prompted speculation that the military cooperation between Myanmar, Russia and China may expand to include North Korea.

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