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UN says Russia, China sent deadly aid to Myanmar's military

May 18, 2023

Since seizing power in a 2021 coup, the junta has used the imported weapons "to commit atrocities" against civilians, a United Nations expert said in a report.

Military hardware is displayed during a parade in Naypyidaw, Myanmar
Myanmar's military has imported fighter jets, missile systems and attack drones from Russia since overthrowing the government in 2021Image: AFP/Getty Images

Myanmar's military has imported at least $1 billion (€925 million) worth of "arms, dual-use goods, equipment, and raw materials to manufacture weapons" since the junta staged a coup in February 2021, according to a United Nations report.

The UN Human Rights Council report by Special Rapporteur Tom Andrew cites China and Russia as the largest weapons suppliers to the junta, which took control in the southeast Asian country after removing and jailing de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Myanmar's civil war intensifies

Cracking down on defiance

Public resistance has since been suppressed by the military with mass arrests and airstrikes.

Some opponents of military rule have taken up arms over the last 15 months, including in places joining ethnic minority insurgents. The military has responded with air strikes and deploying heavy weapons, including in civilian areas.

Since seizing power, Myanmar's military has killed at least 3,500 civilians and jailed an estimated 22,000 political prisoners, the UN reported.

Another 1.5 million people have also been forcibly displaced — with people fleeing military strikes as well as "murder, torture and sexual violence" carried out by Myanmar's military in areas it claims are aligned with opposition groups.

Singapore, India and Thailand also gave financial backing

The UN report highlights $406 million in weapons and related material that went to the Myanmar military from Russia, $267 million from China, $254 million from Singapore, $51 million from India and $28 million from Thailand.

Myanmar dissidents resist junta from Thailand

The report added that 28 Russian private and state-owned companies have transferred fighter jets and spare parts, advanced missile systems, reconnaissance and attack drones, attack helicopters and other systems to the junta.

Meanwhile, 41 private and state-owned companies registered in China and Hong Kong supplied the military in Myanmar with an array of arms, according to the paper from the Special Rapporteur. This delivery included advanced trainer jets, light attack aircraft, tank upgrades and repairs for Chinese fighter jets.

In December last year, the Russian ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said Moscow didn't think the crisis in Myanmar was a threat to international peace and believed that it should not dealt with by the Council.

jsi/rs (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)