MOSCOW: The United States on January 25 urged Moscow to reconsider an agreement to supply Russian fighter planes to Burma, the Southeast Asian country hit by instability caused by the ethnic conflict.
The Russian Defence Ministry said earlier this week that it would sell six Sukhoi Su-30 planes to Burma, also known as Myanmar, according to Russian state media.
Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency said Burma was interested in buying other Russian land and naval military hardware for its forces.
Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Lieutenant General Alexander Fomin was quoted by state-run TASS news agency as saying that “the planes will become the main fighter aircraft of [Burma’s] air force to protect the country’s territorial integrity and repel any terror threats.”
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a news briefing on January 25 that “we’ve seen some new troubling media reports that Russia intends to sell Su-30 fighter jets to the Burmese armed forces.
“The reports, if confirmed, serve as another reminder of Russia’s continued efforts to arm militaries that flagrantly violate human rights,” she said.
“While the Russian Federation says it favours constructive dialogue to resolve the crisis in Burma, the reports of plans to sell advanced military technology, if true, show otherwise.
“We urge the governments of both Russia and Burma to reconsider a further build-up in arms and fully commit their efforts to finding a peaceful and stable solution to that crisis,” she said.
The United States has declared that the Burmese government’s action against its Muslim Rohingya minority in the northern Rakhine State “constitutes ethnic cleansing.”
The violence began late last year amid a military crackdown following attacks by Rohingya insurgents in Rakhine, leading to the flight of nearly 700,000 refugees to neighbouring Bangladesh.
Burma’s government has denied allegations that it is targeting civilians and says its action is directed against militants.
The United States has assailed Burma’s leaders for its treatment of the minority population.
“After a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in November.
“No provocation can justify the horrendous atrocities that have ensued,” he added.
The United States previously urged countries to suspend arms sales to Burma in response to the crackdown.