Sanctioned Russian company looks to produce military trucks in Myanmar, advocacy group says 

Russia’s biggest truck manufacturer met with junta leadership last week to discuss the production of its vehicles in Myanmar, a move that could “deepen” the country’s relationship with the coup regime, according to advocacy group Justice for Myanmar (JFM). 

A delegation headed by Rustam Minnikhanov, President of Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan, and including Sergey Kogogin—the general director for Kamaz, a civilian and military truck company—met with Myanmar army chief Min Aung Hlaing and junta investment minister Aung Naing Oo on April 27. Members of multiple Russian companies who have previously engaged with the Myanmar military were also present, JFM said in a report published on Monday.

A manufacturing agreement between the parties is expected next month. 

Russian state-owned arms company Rostec is the majority shareholder in Kamaz, whose trucks were used in the country’s recent invasion of Ukraine. Through its parent company Daimler Truck, the German Mercedes-Benz also owns some 15 percent of Kamaz’s shares.

Just days before Kogogin’s Myanmar trip, the UK introduced sanctions against him for his corporation’s role in supplying vehicles to the Russian military. He has similarly been targeted by the EU and Australia, the latter of which has not yet introduced sanctions against the Myanmar junta, JFM spokesperson Yadanar Maung pointed out. 

“While it is positive that Australia has sanctioned Kamaz and Sergey Kogogin, they have not imposed any sanctions in response to the military’s illegal coup attempt,” she is quoted as saying. 

She described the international response to the February 2021 coup as “weak and uncoordinated.” 

Without similar action against Myanmar’s junta, sanctions on Russia could be rendered “ineffective,” JFM warned. 

“Minnikhanov has brought Kamaz and other Russian businesses to Myanmar as sanctions limit Russian access to Western and other markets,” the advocacy group stated.

The resulting relationship will serve to “embolden” Min Aung Hlaing’s armed forces, spokesperson Yadanar Maung said. 

“Increased access to military vehicles and truck manufacturing capabilities will aid the Myanmar military’s campaign of terror, as it commits mass killings, torture, rape, forced displacement and the destruction of whole villages,” she added. 

More than 10,000 people have been arrested since the coup, and more than 1,800 killed, according to estimates by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been collecting data on junta rights abuses. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher. 

In Monday’s report, JFM noted that one of Kamaz’s signature trucks is a vehicle on which a surface-to-air missile launcher known as the Pantsir-S1 can be affixed. In January 2021, just one month before the coup, the Myanmar army ordered two Pantsir-S1s during an official Russian visit to the country. They are expected to arrive next year. 

Tatarstan president Minnikhanov’s dealings with coup leader Min Aung Hlaing date back to 2013, when he encouraged the then-military government to purchase trucks from Kamaz, JFM said. 

Min Aung Hlaing also led a junta delegation on a visit to Tatarstan last June, where he met with Minnikhanov. 

Junta affairs

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim paid an official two-day visit to Thailand from February 9-10. In a meeting with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, PM Anwar urged Thailand to take greater action to address the growing crisis in neighbouring Myanmar, which has flared for over two years since a military coup in 2021. 

Citing comments made by Anwar to Prayuth at a joint press conference, Bloomberg quoted him as saying: 

“You are in a better position to express many of our concerns that the internal issue in Myanmar has to be resolved internally but it has ramifications or repercussions into the region.”


Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (L) and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha (R) are seen after a meeting at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, on February 9, 2023 (EPA)


On February 10, American oil corporation Chevron announced that its assets and holdings in Myanmar would be sold to Canadian company MTI. Chevron said that it had reached an agreement to sell an MTI subsidiary its 41.1 percent interest in the Yadana project, the natural gas from which is used domestically and exported to Thailand. The company did not reveal the amount for which it sold its stake. 

In compliance with the agreement, Chevron said it would depart Myanmar.

According to a report by rights group Justice For Myanmar, MTI Energy Inc, based in Edmonton, Alberta, is itself a subsidiary of oilfield equipment manufacturer Mitey Titan Industries. Its CEO reportedly heads several companies operating in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The Yadana gas project is Myanmar’s biggest, with the oil and gas industry serving as a primary source of foreign revenue for the junta. Yadana was previously operated by France’s TotalEnergies, which withdrew in 2022. The exit increased Chevron’s stake to 41.1 percent, making it the largest shareholder. The project’s current operator is PTTEP, a Thai state-owned firm, which works alongside the military-controlled Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise. 


Personnel from the Myanmar junta’s “peace talks team” met with the representatives of the New Mon State Party (NMSP) in Naypyitaw on February 13, according to a regime’s announcement in its newspapers. Lt-Gen Yar Pyae led the regime delegation and Nai Aung Min, vice chair of the NMSP, led the ethnic armed organisation’s team. According to the junta, both sides discussed proposals on issues of amending “fundamental sections” of the military-drafted 2008 Constitution. The NMSP signed the now-defunct Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2018, when the country was under the elected civilian government led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, later deposed in the 2021 coup.


A photo published by regime mouthpiece Global New Light of Myanmar of the meeting between representatives of the military and the New Mon State Party on February 13

During a similar series of meetings late last month, the military met with another delegation from the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) headed by its chair, Yawd Serk. They reportedly also discussed amendments to the 2008 charter, among other issues. The regime released a statement after the third day of talks on January 26 declaring that the two groups had signed “final comprehensive peace agreements,” but did not elaborate on what this entailed. 

Armed groups actively resisting the coup regime have denounced any participation by ethnic armed organisations in the junta’s “peace talks” as long as the military continues a nationwide campaign of repression against civilians and political opponents. 

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