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

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 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 bloc frustrated over a lack of progress on resolving the country’s political crisis.

‘Stabilise’ the country

Myanmar has been in chaos and its economy paralysed as the military regime struggles 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 said was “justified”.

Min Aung Hlaing undertook a “private visit” to 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.

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 a national poll next year.

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