November 28, 2022

Myanmar’s military has begun taking delivery of a batch of Russian-made combat jets, a monitoring group said Friday, the latest hardware shipped from Moscow as rights campaigners accuse the junta of hitting civilians with air strikes.

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

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

It did not say whether the jet was in training or flown on active missions.

Local media have previously reported between four and six of the multi-role twin-seat fighters had arrived in the country, accompanied by Russian trainers and technicians.

The military has not commented on the sale or how many of the jets are in Myanmar.

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

In October Jane’s Defence Weekly said it had received imagery showing a Russian Kamov KA-29TB assault transport helicopter in operation in the northern Sagaing region.

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

The junta is struggling to crush resistance after it seized power last year.

Fighting has flared with ethnic rebel groups as well as newer anti-coup “People’s Defence Forces”, and rights groups have accused the military of launching air strikes on civilians that amount to war crimes.

Last month air strikes on a concert held by a major ethnic rebel group in the north killed around 50 people, including civilians, according to the rebels.

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