Russian FM Lavrov on visit to ‘long-standing partner’ Myanmar

Russian FM Lavrov on visit to ‘long-standing partner’ Myanmar

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has arrived in Myanmar on an official visit that Moscow said will include discussions with the military administration on security and economic issues, the Russian news agency TASS reported.

Russia is a key supporter and arms supplier to Myanmar’s military, which seized power in February last year from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Lavrov met the military-appointed Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, and other officials shortly after his arrival in the capital, Naypyidaw, on Wednesday, Russia’s foreign ministry wrote on Twitter.

Lavrov gave no sign of any change to Moscow’s stance towards the country, which he described as a “friendly and longstanding partner”, adding that the two nations “have a very solid foundation for building up cooperation in a wide range of areas”.

“We appreciate the traditionally friendly nature of our partnership, which is not affected by any opportunistic processes,” Lavrov said, adding that Russia and Myanmar are linked by decades of cooperation.

Myanmar’s ruling generals have become increasingly isolated on the international stage and subjected to economic and political sanctions because of the coup and their violent crackdown on those resisting their power grab.

Myanmar has been in a state of increasing crisis since army chief Min Aung Hlaing led the coup last year, triggering a mass civil disobedience movement and nationwide protests. The military’s crackdown has prompted some to take up arms, joining forces with ethnic armed groups that have long battled for greater political autonomy.

United Nations experts have described the country as being in a civil war.

Some 2,148 people have been killed in the crackdown since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which is tracking the military response.

Thousands have been arrested, and about 70 political prisoners in the country are facing a death sentence. Last week, the military authorities hanged four activists in the first use of the death penalty in Myanmar since the 1980s.

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