Russian Defense Minister Seeks Closer Ties to Myanmar

NAYPYIDAW, March 5 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow is seeking improved ties including military cooperation with Myanmar, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said during an official visit to the country this week.

“In connection with the removal of sanctions, I think we have new opportunities in the Defense Ministry for cooperation,” Shoigu told reporters on Monday during a meeting in the capital Naypyidaw with Myanmar’s Vice President Nyan Tun.

The two states could also cooperate in future in trade, culture and education, Shoigu said. Russia plans to admit Myanmar students to Moscow State University, Xinhua reported, citing Shoigu.

Myanmar, previously known as Burma, was ruled by a military junta from 1962 until 2011, when the military transferred power to an ostensibly civilian government. Sanctions were imposed on the military regime by the United States and the European Union in the 1990’s, because of the country’s human rights record.

The Myanmar armed forces are equipped with mainly Soviet and Chinese-made equipment, much of which is obsolete. The Myanmar Army is still active in operations against the Kachin Independence Army group near the border with China in the north.

Last April, the European Union voted to lift all sanctions on Myanmar, except for a ban on arms supplies. In July 2012, the United States restored diplomatic relations with Myanmar and lifted some sanctions, including a ban on investment.

In January, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on the lifting of all remaining sanctions still imposed against Myanmar, during a visit to Naypyidaw.

Shoigu continued his three-day visit to the region on Tuesday and flew to Vietnam, where he has met his counterpart Phung Quang Thanh.


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