December 4, 2022

Myanmar’s military has started taking a shipment of Russian-made warplanes, a monitoring group said on Friday, the latest hardware shipped from Moscow, as rights activists accuse the junta of hitting civilians with airstrikes.

In 2018, Myanmar’s military under the civilian rule of Aung San Suu Kyi bought six Sukhoi Su-30s from Russia, according to Russian state media reports.

Satellite data, reports from flight monitors and a closed source have “now confirmed with confidence” the presence of at least one of the jets in the military-built capital Naypyidaw, said Myanmar Witness, a monitoring group.

It was not said if the jet was in training or had flown on active missions.

Local media have previously reported that between four and six of the two-seat multirole fighters have arrived in the country, accompanied by Russian trainers and technicians.

The military has not commented on the sales or number of jets in Myanmar.

Russia is a major arms supplier and backer of the junta, which has called Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine “justified”.

In October, Jane’s Defense Weekly said it had received images showing a Russian Kamov KA-29TB attack transport helicopter operating in the northern Sagaing region.

The helicopter appears to be one of five Myanmar’s military agreed to purchase earlier this year, Jane said, citing regional intelligence sources.

The junta is struggling to break the resistance after seizing power last year.

Fighting with ethnic rebel groups as well as newer anti-coup “People’s Defense Forces” has flared up, and human rights groups have accused the military of conducting airstrikes on civilians in amounts to war crimes.

According to the rebels, around 50 people, including civilians, died in airstrikes on a concert by a large ethnic rebel group in the north last month.

The junta said reports that civilians were among the dead were “rumours”.