Conflicts & War

Myanmar coup leader returns home after boosting ties with Russia

Bangkok, Jun 28 (EFE).- Myanmar coup leader Min Aung Hlaing returned to the country after a week-long visit to Russia, where he visited an arms factory and strengthened ties with one of his few remaining allies after the Feb. 1 coup, state-run media reported Monday.

The general and the delegation that traveled to Moscow arrived home on Sunday night on a special flight to Naypyidaw from their second overseas trip since seizing power, The Global New Light of Myanmar said.

During his trip, Min Aung Hlaing took part in a security conference, met senior Russian military officials, and visited the headquarters of state-owned arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.

Although no arms deal has been reported, both countries declared their intention to strengthen bilateral cooperation after the meeting between Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and the Myanmar coup leader.

Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu described Myanmar as “a time-tested strategic partner and reliable ally in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region” after a meeting with Min Aung Hlaing, who said, “our military has become one of the strongest in the region thanks to Russia,” according to Moscow media outlets.

Russia, which has not condemned the military coup, remains one of the Myanmar military junta’s closest allies and one of its main weapons suppliers despite a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on June 18 calling for a halt in arms sales to Myanmar.

During his address at the 9th Moscow Conference on International Security Conference, Min Aung Hlaing described the coup as an attempt to restore the democratic system that the previous government had “degraded.”

Almost five months after the coup that ended Myanmar’s incipient transition to democracy, the military has still not managed to take control of the entire country despite brutal repression of the opposition.

At least 883 people have been killed as a result of a crackdown by security forces, according to figures from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

Tired of the little progress made by the peaceful demonstrations, some protesters have formed militias or joined armed ethnic groups in the country to put up armed resistance to the military, while clashes between the armed forces and ethnic guerrillas – who demand greater autonomy for their regions – have intensified in several areas across Myanmar since the coup.

The military has justified the coup alleging fraud in elections held in November, in which ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party repeated its resounding victory of 2015, with international observers backing the polls. EFE


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