US sanctions Myanmar businessmen over alleged Russian arms deals

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken says sanctions take aim at Russia and Belarus’ support for Myanmar military.

The United States has sanctioned a group of Myanmar businessmen and their company accused of supplying Russian-made weapons to the military regime that seized control of the country in last year’s coup.

Aung Moe Myint and Hlaing Moe Myint, the owners of Dynasty International, and Myo Thitsar, the company’s director, were placed on the sanctions blacklist for procuring weapons and aircraft in Belarus for the military administration, the US Treasury said on Thursday.

“The sanctions announced today target those who profit from the oppressive actions of the regime by operating in the defence sectors of Burma’s economy and providing arms and other material support to Burma’s military,” the US Treasury said in a statement, referring to Myanmar by its former name.

“These sanctions do not target the people of Burma, who have suffered under the brutal rule of the regime for far too long.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the latest sanctions took aim at the Myanmar military’s ties to Russia and Belarus.

“We will continue to use our sanctions authorities to target those in Burma and elsewhere supporting Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine, as well as Russia and Belarus’ facilitation of the Burmese regime’s violence against its own people,” Blinken said in a statement that accompanied the Treasury’s announcement.

The US Department of State also placed Than Hlaing, a former police chief and deputy home affairs minister, on its sanctions list over his alleged involvement in the extrajudicial killing of protests following the coup.

Yadanar Maung, a spokesman for advocacy group Justice For Myanmar, said the international community must do more to cut off the military administration’s source of finance and military arms.

“Sanctions on Dynasty International will help disrupt one key enabler of the Myanmar junta, which has a branch in Singapore, but too many Myanmar arms brokers remain unsanctioned,” Maung told Al Jazeera.

“Action against all Myanmar military arms brokers are essential, or else the military’s war crimes and crimes against humanity will continue. Dynasty International founder Aung Moe Myint represents the Lukashenko regime in Myanmar and has facilitated the arms supply from Belarus,” Maung added, referring to Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

“This designation is a positive step to prevent the continued arms supply from Belarus, which has long been a key ally of the Myanmar military.”

The Myanmar military has violently suppressed opposition to its rule since toppling Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government in February last year.

More than 2,300 civilians have been killed and one million people displaced since the coup led by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, according to human rights groups.

Russia is among the biggest suppliers of hardware to the Myanmar military and has been among the post-coup administration’s few defenders on the international stage.

Last month, Min Aung Hlaing, who chairs the military’s State Administration Council, visited Russia to attend the Eastern Economic Forum, his third trip to the country since the coup.

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