Myanmar has been under repression ever since the military took over power. International media and human rights organizations have reported many reports of village after village being burned. Recently, the United Nations Human Rights Commission has called on the member countries to stop supplying weapons to Myanmar in order to reduce the torture of the people in the country.

Recently, the government has been struggling to suppress the Arakan Army in Rakhine State. Tension has arisen in the country as a result of the fighting in this state bordering Bangladesh. There have also been casualties from Myanmar shelling on the Bangladesh border. Myanmar is gradually increasing its military capabilities. In terms of military power, Myanmar is quite strong compared to its neighboring countries. The position of the country is stronger than Bangladesh.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party, the NLD, seized power in a military coup in Myanmar in February 2021, shortly before the start of her second term in power following an election victory. The United States, United Kingdom and European Union countries imposed sanctions on the country after the military coup. As a result, Myanmar is in a state of isolation, but despite this, the country’s military capabilities have not decreased or their arms purchases have not stopped.

An organization called Global Firepower has published the list of the most powerful military countries in 2022. Among the 142 countries in this list, Myanmar is ranked 39th, and Bangladesh is ranked 46th.

Myanmar ranks 18th in terms of military strength among Asian countries. According to the Global Firepower Index, Myanmar’s defense budget in 2022 is 2.28 billion US dollars, the number of the army is approximately 450,000, and the number of paramilitaries is approximately 50,000.

In terms of air power, the country has a fleet of 280 aircraft, including 55 fighter or interceptor aircraft. The number of training aircraft is 93 and the number of aircraft reserved for attack is 21. Besides, there are 26 combat aircraft carriers, 80 helicopters and 9 attack helicopters.

Among the military vehicles, there are 664 tanks, 1587 armored vehicles, 190 cannons, 1869 towed cannons, 486 rocket projectors, and 155 ships in the fleet. These include five frigates, three small warships corvettes and 133 patrol vessels. The country also has a submarine and two mine warfare craft. Myanmar has also bought Pegasus software from Israel to spy on people, which can be used to hack mobile phones and conduct secret surveillance on anyone.

In 2019, a UN fact-finding mission team called for a complete embargo on arms sales to Myanmar. The team’s report at that time contained detailed information about which countries sold weapons to Myanmar. According to the report, some companies from India, China, Russia, North Korea, Philippines, Israel and Ukraine, these seven countries have supplied weapons to Myanmar.

Military expert and professor of Malay University in Kuala Lumpur, Syed Mahmud Ali said, due to Myanmar’s long-standing closeness with neighboring countries China and India, they buy most of the country’s weapons from these two countries. Myanmar’s relations with China and India are so close that when the country’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was first placed under house arrest, when Western countries imposed sanctions on Burma, China and India supported the country. India gifted a Russian-made submarine to Myanmar in 2018 as a continuation of the relationship.

However, from 1990 to 2016, China, Russia, India, Israel and Ukraine were Myanmar’s main arms suppliers. Most of Myanmar’s fighter jets, armored vehicles, guns and warships come from China. And Russia is the main supplier of warplanes. Besides, Russia is also selling armored vehicles to Myanmar. Besides, the main supply of rockets and artillery shells comes from Serbia.

Myanmar is supposed to get six fighter jets under the recently signed 2018 USD 204 million deal with Russia. Two of the six jets were delivered to Myanmar in March this year. The remaining four will soon reach the country’s junta government, Bangkok-based Myanmar news outlet Irrawaddy said.

Russia will soon deliver new Sukhoi SU-30SM jet fighters to the military government, Irrawaddy reports. Recently, the junta government has been attacking the country on a large scale. Many civilians including children are killed and many injured. The government’s rampage will increase if it gets four new fighter jets.

Junta spokesman Major General Zhao Min Tun said on Tuesday that coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing had personally inspected aircraft production and testing at the Irkustsk Aviation Plant during a visit to Russia this month. The planes will be sent soon, he said.

Myanmar’s military has long been a patron of Russian military hardware. Min Aung Hlaing has visited Russia three times since taking power and has expressed a weakness for Russian weapons as an admirer. According to Stockholm’s International Peace Research Institute, Russia sold $247 million worth of weapons to Myanmar from 2015 to 2021.

The hardware that Myanmar’s military has purchased includes MiG-29 fighter jets, Yak-130 combat trainers, Mi-17, Mi-24 and Mi-35 combat helicopters, among other weapons.

According to Amnesty International, in the first three months of 2022, eight airstrikes were carried out on villages and a refugee camp in Kayah and Karen states in southeastern Myanmar. Nine civilians were killed and at least nine others injured in the attack. Houses and religious buildings were also destroyed.

According to the Irrawaddy, government troops are suffering gradual defeats and desertions in the ground war. The government is even conducting airstrikes against ethnic armed groups in western Myanmar, such as the Arakan Army. On the contrary, the junta government is struggling to control the region. This is why the government is resorting to air strikes.

(September 20/RKH)