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Military-led Myanmar holds joint naval exercise with Russia, its close ally and main arms supplier

BANGKOK (AP) — The Southeast Asian military nation of Myanmar is holding its first joint naval exercise with state-run Russia…

BANGKOK (AP) — Military-led Southeast Asian country Myanmar is holding its first joint naval exercise with Russia, state media reported Tuesday, with both countries carrying out maneuvers in the sea of Andaman.

According to reports in the state newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar, the maritime security exercises between Myanmar and Russia took place from Tuesday to Thursday 157 kilometers (85 miles) west of Myeik, far south of Myanmar. Some Russian navy ships left Yangon to take part, state television MRTV reported Tuesday.

The three-day joint exercise involves aircraft and ships from both countries and focuses on defense against air, sea and land threats as well as other maritime security measures, according to reports.

Russia is a supporter and major arms supplier to Myanmar’s military government, which was installed after the military seized power and overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021. Russia defends the military government of Myanmar in international forums, and the ruling generals return the military government of Myanmar. favor by generally supporting Moscow’s foreign policy agenda.

Myanmar has been treated as a pariah state by many Western countries since its takeover and violent suppression of protests against it, leading to the deaths of thousands of civilians and giving rise to an armed resistance movement fighting against it. army in many parts of the country. the country.

The Global New Light of Myanmar said that the head of the military government, General Min Aung Hlaing, met on Monday with Russian Admiral Nikolai Yevmenov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, at Thilawa port in the southern part of Yangon . where a welcoming ceremony was held for a group of Russian naval ships.

Min Aung Hlaing was briefed about the capability of Russian weapons, the installation of modern systems and facts about an anti-submarine helicopter, according to reports.

Tom Andrews, the independent UN investigator on human rights in Myanmar, in a May report to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, identified $406 million in weapons and equipment sent to the Myanmar military from Russia, $267 million from China, $254 million from Singapore, $51 million from India and $28 million from Thailand.

Since the 2021 takeover, the report said, 28 Russian private and state-owned companies have transferred to the army combat aircraft and their spare parts, advanced missile systems, reconnaissance and attack drones, helicopters. attack and other systems.

Russian-made warplanes are used in attacks against pro-democracy guerrillas and ethnic armed groups also fighting military rule.

As an example of what he calls military brutality, Andrews cited the April 11 airstrike using a Russian Yak-130 fighter jet during a ceremony in northern Myanmar attended of some 300 opponents of the military regime, which was quickly followed by an attack by Russian Mi-35 helicopters on those who came to the aid. According to him, at least 160 people were killed, including many children.

The drills come at a time when the Myanmar military faces coordinated offensives by pro-democracy resistance fighters and ethnic minority armed organizations who have seized strategic towns in the northern region of Sagaing and Shan State , to the East.

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