U.N. report: Russia, China top arms suppliers to Myanmar military

A new U.N. report said that Myanmar's military has imported more than $1 billion in weapons, including fighter jets, since it seized power in a February 2021 coup. File Photo by EPA-EFE
A new U.N. report said that Myanmar's military has imported more than $1 billion in weapons, including fighter jets, since it seized power in a February 2021 coup. File Photo by EPA-EFE

BANGKOK, May 18 (UPI) -- Myanmar's military has imported at least $1 billion in weapons and related materials from Russia, China and other countries since seizing power in a February 2021 coup, according to a new report by a United Nations expert.

"Despite overwhelming evidence of the Myanmar military's atrocity crimes against the people of Myanmar, the generals continue to have access to advanced weapons systems, spare parts for fighter jets, raw materials and manufacturing equipment for domestic weapons production," Tom Andrews, U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, said in a statement Wednesday.


The report identified Russia, China and arms dealers operating in Singapore as the main suppliers to the Myanmar junta, which has waged a brutal crackdown on opposition to its regime since the coup.

Russia is responsible for more than $400 million in advanced weapons transfers, while China has supplied more than $260 million, with much of the trade coming from state-owned entities in both countries.


Another $254 million in supplies have been shipped from dozens of entities in Singapore to the military, the report said, noting that Singaporean banks have been used extensively by arms dealers.

The weapons have been used in assaults against civilians such as a bombing attack last month on Pazigyi village in the central Sagaing region that killed more than 160.

A Russian-supplied Yak-130 fighter jet dropped two 550-pound bombs on a ceremony to mark the opening of a new office of the National Unity Government, Myanmar's civilian government-in-exile, the report said.

A pair of Russian Mi-35 attack helicopters continued the onslaught, which the report called "yet another example of the Myanmar junta's probable crimes against humanity and war crimes against the people of Myanmar."

Myanmar has been wracked by violence since the military seized power from the elected government of leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a February 2021 coup.

Civil disobedience and nationwide protests sprung up immediately after the coup and fighting has since hardened into an internal conflict that some describe as a full-fledged civil war.

Some 22,407 protesters and activists have been arrested and 3,519 have been killed since the military seized power, according to Thailand-based watchdog Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.


The U.N. watchdog's report documented more than 12,500 unique purchases or recorded shipments directly to the Myanmar military or arms dealers working on the military's behalf.

The transfers include fighter jets, attack helicopters, drones, missile systems and radar complexes -- a diversity and volume of goods the report calls "staggering."

Suppliers in India and Thailand were also identified in the report, with shipments of $51 million and $28 million since the coup, respectively.

Andrews called for a complete ban on the sale or transfer of weapons to the Myanmar military and asked governments to enforce existing bans and sanctions.

"Those providing these weapons are able to avoid sanctions by using front companies and creating new ones while counting on lax enforcement," he said.

"The good news is that we now know who is supplying these arms and the jurisdictions in which they operate," Andrews added. "Member states now need to step up and stop the flow of these arms."

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