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Myanmar Crisis

Myanmar junta chief woos Russia with Moscow trip

Min Aung Hlaing seeks stronger partnership to combat global rebuke

Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing will attend an international security conference while in Moscow.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Myanmar junta chief Min Aung Hlaing arrived in Moscow on Monday to meet with senior Russian military and government officials, looking to bolster ties with a crucial partner amid growing international backlash against his regime.

Myanmar's commander-in-chief met with Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council and a close aide to President Vladimir Putin. They discussed cooperation on national security as well as recent political developments in the Southeast Asian country, a Myanmar military spokesperson said.

The junta chief met separately with an executive from a Russian state-run arms exporter.

Min Aung Hlaing also will attend the Moscow Conference on International Security, hosted by Russia's Defense Ministry from Tuesday to Thursday, and visit a university and a factory, Myanmar state media report.

Though Myanmar's military also considers China among its biggest backers, some members worry about allowing the neighboring superpower too much clout over domestic issues. They think the junta is less likely to encounter conflicts of interest with the more distant Russia.

Moscow regards Myanmar as a key country in Russia's push to expand its influence in Southeast Asia. Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin visited Myanmar in March to attend the annual Armed Forces Day parade. He also met Min Aung Hlaing and agreed on greater cooperation between their countries.

Maung Maung Kyaw, who commands Myanmar's air force, visited Russia in May, attending a helicopter exhibition.

Myanmar's military continues to clash with civilian resistance and armed minority groups months after its Feb. 1 coup. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution Friday criticizing the military's violence against civilians and urging an arms embargo on the country. But the resolution is not binding, and Myanmar could continue receiving arms from Russia and China.

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