Myanmar will import Russian oil, says the military

The Southeast Asian country maintains close ties with Russia, even as both remain under a raft of sanctions from Western countries — Myanmar for a military coup that overthrew an elected government last year, and Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, which it called a “special military operation.”

Russia is looking for new customers for its energy in the region as its biggest export destination, Europe, will impose an embargo on Russian oil in stages later this year.

“We have received permission to import petroleum from Russia,” military spokesman Zaw Min Tun told a news conference on Wednesday, adding that it was favored for “quality and low cost.”

Zaw Min Tun said junta leader Min Aung Hlaing discussed oil and gas during a trip to Russia last month. Myanmar now imports its fuel through Singapore.

Myanmar will consider joint oil exploration in Myanmar with Russia and China, he said.

The military has set up a Russian Oil Purchasing Committee headed by a close ally of Min Aung Hlaing to oversee the purchase, import, and transportation of fuel at a reasonable price based on Myanmar’s needs, according to a statement published in a newspaper of the state on Wednesday.

In addition to political turmoil and civil unrest, Myanmar has been hit hard by high fuel prices and power outages, prompting its military leadership to turn to importing petroleum that can be used in power plants. of electricity.

Petrol prices have risen about 350% since the coup in February last year to 2,300-2,700 kyat (about $1) per liter.

This past week, gas stations closed in various parts of the country due to the shortage, according to media reports.

Russia is also a major arms supplier to Myanmar’s military.