Coup leader gets buddy with cadets; Open door for Russia; and more

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junta watch



Min Aung Hlaing talks to an injured soldier at a military hospital in Pyin Oo Lwin.

By The Irrawaddy October 15, 2022

The military leader rubs shoulders with the cadets

Min Aung Hlaing chats with cadets after lunch at a military academy in Pyin Oo Lwin on October 12. / Cincds

On Wednesday, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing and his generals tried to win over future military officers, attending an event to help cadets from the 65th class of the Defense Services Academy choose the right corps.

At Pyin Oo Lwin Academy in Mandalay, the junta boss had lunch with cadets before moving from table to table, chatting with them.

As Min Aung Hlaing gave the cadets encouraging hugs and engaged in small talk, the generals accompanying him, including Navy Chief Admiral Moe Aung and Air Force Chief General Tun Aung, showed very broad smiles.

The junta-controlled media actually ran news reports showing him sitting with cadets around dining tables for months. But this is the first time that we see him engage directly in friendly discussions with them.

The footage was followed by photos of Min Aung Hlaing meeting injured soldiers at a military hospital in Pyin Oo Lwin on Thursday. Unlike his previous visits, this time he did his best to come across as a caring commander by “paying serious attention” to each patient he encountered, as if they were close family members, showed the pictures.

His sincerity is questionable, however, as his newfound empathy and relationship-building skills come at a time when his army is badly hit by desertions, casualties, and a recruiting crisis.

It has been nearly a year since Min Aung Hlaing ordered his generals to show a benevolent and fatherly spirit to their subordinates by hosting dinner parties for them. But given that these events were organized only after the regime suffered heavy casualties in daily clashes with resistance forces and ethnic armed organizations, as well as desertions, it is obvious that it has was forced to adopt various measures of persuasion to keep his army fighting for him. .

Russian investment sought for power sector

Regime Energy Minister U Myo Myint Oo and Electricity Minister U Thaung Han with Russia-ASEAN Business Council Chairman Ivan Polyakov (right) in Moscow on October 11.

As the world’s major energy companies have abandoned their operations in Myanmar in response to the regime’s human rights abuses, junta-appointed ministers have flown to Russia and invited investment in energy sectors. electricity and energy in Myanmar.

Energy Minister U Myo Myint Oo and Electricity Minister U Thaung Han are in Moscow to participate in the Russian Energy Week International Forum. The pair spoke with Russia-ASEAN Business Council Chairman Ivan Polyakov on Tuesday and called on Russian companies to invest in oil exploration, oil refining, fertilizer production and petroleum product manufacturing .

During the forum, the pair are also expected to discuss investment potential in Myanmar’s energy and power sectors, according to junta media.

When meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in September, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing invited international companies to engage in oil exploration in Myanmar. The regime also plans to set up a modular nuclear reactor project in the next few years with technical assistance from Russia.

We will have to wait and see how Russia will invest in Myanmar’s energy sector. Meanwhile, major energy companies such as Total, Chevron, Woodside Petronas and Puma have left Myanmar under military control.

Beijing proves to be a faithful friend

Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai (C) attends the inauguration ceremony of Kyaukphyu gas-fired power station on October 10, 2022 in Kyaukphyu, Rakhine state. / Chinese Embassy in Myanmar Facebook

With growing anti-Chinese sentiment in Myanmar and military rule moving closer to Russia after the coup, it appeared for a time that relations between the two neighbors were going badly. Far from there.

In western Myanmar, the regime is pushing forward the China-backed Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (KPSEZ) and deep-sea port project in Rakhine. At the meeting of the Central Committee for Myanmar’s Special Economic Zones on Wednesday, Deputy Junta Leader Soe Win, who chairs the committee, touted the project’s potential benefits as an important part of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor ( CMEC) and Beijing Belt and Road. Initiative, and real booster of bilateral relations.

On Monday, Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai inaugurated a 135 MW gas-fired power plant worth US$180 million in KPSEZ. The Ambassador hailed Kyaukphyu as crucial for CMEC.

Beijing is a longtime ally of successive military regimes in Myanmar, with substantial economic interests in the Southeast Asian country. And with Russia, he defends the regime at the United Nations Security Council.

In June, China donated 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Myanmar through the ASEAN Special Envoy. And in September, he donated fortified glass for a Botatung Pagoda shrine in Yangon and offered China-Myanmar friendship scholarships for the first time to the National University of Arts and Culture.

Japanese aid supports the regime’s military effort

Myanmar regime troops in 2021 / AFP

The Myanmar junta’s use of passenger ships donated by the Japanese government to transport troops and military equipment to war-torn northern Rakhine State was exposed this week, prompting the Japanese government to suspend non-humanitarian aid to Myanmar and to punish junta officials linked with serious human rights violations.

Citing internal regime memos, Human Rights Watch said the junta used “Kisapanadi I” and “Kisapanadi III” for trips to deploy “more than 100 Tatmadaw [Myanmar military] troops, as well as their supplies and materials” along the Mayu River to Buthidaung in northern Rakhine State, where the regime is fighting the ethnic armed group Arakan Army (AA).

The vessels used were among three ships delivered by Japan between 2017 and 2019 as part of the 500 million yen ($3.5 million) economic and social development plan “to improve water transport in Myanmar and to contribute to the economic and social development of Myanmar by making donations”. passenger vessels for coastal transport in Rakhine State”.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official replied that Tokyo is working to ensure proper use of facilities and equipment provided under official development assistance programs.

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