Myanmar coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has met Russia’s navy chief as the two countries prepared to hold their first ever joint maritime exercises off Myanmar’s Andaman coast.
The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar, in a front-page report, showed Min Aung Hlaing saluting an honour guard of Russian sailors from Moscow’s Pacific Fleet.
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The paper said Min Aung Hlaing was then taken on board the antisubmarine destroyer Admiral Tributs where Russian navy chief Admiral Nikolai Evmenov explained the ship’s capabilities and weapons systems. He was also briefed on antisubmarine helicopters, it added.
Myanmar and Russia have drawn closer since the February 2021 coup, which triggered a violent crisis that has killed nearly 4,200 civilians and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.
Moscow, itself isolated on the global stage since it launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, has become a major supplier of weapons and equipment to the Myanmar military.
The first Myanmar-Russia Maritime Security Exercise (MARUMEX) involves ships and aircraft and is being held in seas 85 nautical miles (157km) west of Myeik from November 7 to 9.
The drills will focus on the “prevention of air, water surface and underwater dangers and maritime security measures”, according to Myanmar’s state media.
The Russian state news agency TASS said the ships taking part also included the Admiral Panteleyev, another antisubmarine ship.
Min Aung Hlaing, who leads the military’s State Administration Council, has travelled to Moscow and Vladivostok since the coup and held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in September 2022.
Russian officials have also been honoured guests at Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day, which takes place in March each year.