Putin meets Myanmar junta chief, hails 'positive' ties

Both governments face diplomatic isolation, especially from the West



Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

By AFP

Published: Wed 7 Sep 2022, 11:58 AM

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed "positive" ties with Myanmar as he met with the country's junta chief Min Aung Hlaing in Russia's far eastern city of Vladivostok.

"Myanmar is our long-standing and reliable partner in Southeast Asia ... Our relations are developing in a positive way," Putin said during the meeting, on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum.

Min Aung Hlaing's visit comes as both governments face diplomatic isolation — Moscow for its February military intervention in pro-Western Ukraine, and Naypyidaw for a military coup last year.

As Moscow's ties with the West unravel over Ukraine, the Kremlin is seeking to pivot the country towards the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

"I am very proud of you, because when you came to power in the country, Russia, so to say, became number one in the world," Min Aung Hlaing told Putin, as quoted by a Kremlin statement that translated his remarks into Russian.

"We would call you not just the leader of Russia but a leader of the world because you control and organise stability around the whole world," he said.

The two leaders discussed cooperation in a "friendly and openly" manner, and "exchanged views on relations and the international situation", the Myanmar junta said in a statement.

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

It has been in chaos and its economy paralysed as the military regime struggles to crush resistance.

Russia and its ally China have been accused of arming Myanmar's junta with weapons used to attack civilians since the coup.

More than 2,200 people have been killed in the crackdown, according to a local monitor.

During a trip to Naypyidaw in early August, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov backed the junta's efforts to "stabilise" the country and hold a national poll next year.

However, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned the international community to reject the junta's "sham elections".

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