MOSCOW — The leader of Myanmar’s military junta on Wednesday attended an international conference in Moscow, an appearance that reflected Russia’s eagerness to develop ties with it despite international opprobrium.
The military in Myanmar ousted the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, saying her party’s landslide victory in elections last November resulted from massive voter fraud. It has not produced credible evidence to back its claim.
Security forces have brutally suppressed widespread popular protests against the military takeover, killing hundreds of protesters and carrying out waves of arrests.
The junta’s leader, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, claimed in Wednesday’s speech at the conference organized by Russia’s Defense Ministry that it was trying to consolidate a democratic system in the country that has “degraded.”
On Tuesday, Min Aung Hlaing met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who hailed strong military cooperation between the countries.
“We pay special attention to this meeting as we see Myanmar as a time-tested strategic partner and a reliable ally in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region,” Shoigu said at the start of the meeting.
He added that “cooperation in the military and military-technical field is an important part of relations between Russia and Myanmar” and praised Min Aung Hlaing for strengthening the country’s military.
Shoigu said that Russia would work to expand ties with Myanmar based on “mutual understanding, respect and trust.”