Myanmar is one of many countries increasingly interested in Russian weapons, and it was recently announced that it is preparing to purchase six Russian Su-30 fighters. That agreement was reached during Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu’s visit to the republic on Jan. 20-22. Russian weapons for land and naval forces were part of that agenda.
The US State Department slammed the move, claiming that weapon sales to that country were inappropriate because of the Rohingya crisis. According to State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, the deal would add fuel to Myanmar’s internal conflict. It should be noted that she said nothing about US shipments of lethal weapons to Ukraine. Nor did she mention the fact that the Rohingya rebels are just one of many armed insurgent groups operating in Myanmar, although it is the only one the US government is worried about.
Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations and the ex-governor of New Mexico, has just resigned from an international advisory panel on the Rohingya refugee crisis. According to him, it is a "whitewash and a cheerleading operation" for Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whom he blames for the fallout from her military's operations against the Rohingya rebels."
That conflict has nothing to do with Russia and Moscow has not taken sides, but the US State Department will seize upon anything as a pretext for attacking Russia and painting it as an “evil empire.” One does not have to be an expert on defense issues to see that the Su-30 fighter jet is not designed for fighting rebels. Its primary mission is delivering high precision strikes against naval targets. It is also effective against any high-value ground assets an enemy might have. In a nutshell, it is an aircraft for a big war against a sophisticated enemy. The Myanmar military has US-made F-16s to use for guerilla warfare purposes. When Washington was selling F-16s to the Myanmar government, it did not care one bit about the fact that that US-made aircraft could be used against rebels.
The US military has disliked the Su-30 ever since the Indian Su-30MKI version outperformed US F-15C Eagles in 2004 and 2005. In any comparison, the Su-30MKI dominates the US-made F-16. In 2015, the Su-30 MKI outmaneuvered the UK Typhoon during training exercises. Myanmar is a lucrative market for arms exports. The US views Moscow as a competitor. Moscow and Naypyidaw were working together militarily as far back as the 1990s. Myanmar has purchased Russian MiG-29 fighter planes, Yak-130 combat jet trainers, Mi-17, Mi-24, and Mi-35 combat helicopters. Russia is their biggest supplier of surface-to-air missiles.
US-made weapons are used to kill civilians in Yemen. American arms have also managed to find their way into the hands of Syrian rebels. The Islamic State has used American weapons in Iraq and Syria. Washington sells weapons to more than 100 countries and many of those are authoritarian regimes. Recently, US weapons were used by Shi'ite Muslim militias against the Kurds, America’s allies, in Iraq.
Russia is the second-largest arms exporter in the world and it is strengthening its position at breakneck speed. It is busily inking lucrative contracts with America’s traditional partners in the Middle East. Russia has a global edge in air-defense systems. Its latest S-400 is a huge success, with ongoing deliveries to China and a signed contract with Turkey. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are just two more potential customers currently negotiating terms. Russia owes its success to the fact that its defense industry is able to offer the highest quality at an acceptable price. Washington is ready to go to any length to buck that trend.
Washington also relies on this same policy in other parts of the world.. The US has resorted to openly pressuring Europeans buy its gas, which is more expensive than what Russia can provide. Nor does it shy away from using any methods it can find to promote its foreign-policy objectives. Now that Washington sees Russia as a competitor that can withstand pressure and pursue its own independent foreign policy, it is blamed for anything that goes wrong in the world. And so, once again the pot is calling the kettle black.