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US sanctions target businessman linked to Myanmar junta for buying Russian-made weapons

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on a Myanmar businessman and two others involved in buying Russian-made weapons from Belarus for the junta that has taken power in the South Asian country. Southeast early last year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

The military staged a coup in February 2021, arresting democratic leaders including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, then violently suppressed protests, sparking a spiraling conflict.

The US Treasury said in a statement it was imposing sanctions on Burmese businessman Aung Moe Myint, son of a military officer who it said facilitated arms deals, including for missiles and aircraft, as well as a company he founded, Dynasty International Company Limited, and two of its directors.

Reuters could not reach Aung Moe Myint for comment.

The action freezes all US assets of the named individuals and generally bars Americans from doing business with them.

In a statement, Blinken cited Myanmar’s execution of four militants in July and the deadly attack on a school by a military helicopter last month. He also pointed to the role the three people sanctioned on Thursday allegedly played in obtaining Russian-produced weapons from Belarus.

“These designations also imply the Myanmar military’s longstanding ties to the Russian and Belarusian armies,” Blinken said, using the country’s former name.

“We will continue to use our sanctions authorities to target those in Burma and elsewhere who support Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, as well as Russia and Belarus’ facilitation of the Burmese regime’s violence against its own people. .”

Russia is a main source of military hardware for Myanmar’s military and provided diplomatic cover amid international condemnation of the coup. Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing has visited Russia twice in recent months.

The State Department also banned former Myanmar police chief and deputy interior minister Than Hlaing from traveling to the United States for his involvement in human rights abuses, said the Treasury, specifically citing the extrajudicial executions of peaceful protesters in February 2021.

The Myanmar Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Western nations have issued numerous rounds of sanctions against the military and its companies since the coup, but efforts to isolate the junta have failed to prevent the slide into what a US envoy called a civil war.

Sanctions, including those handed down on Thursday, do not target gas sales from Myanmar, the military’s biggest source of foreign income, a move that anti-junta forces and human rights advocates say , could influence the behavior of the army.

“The current US sanctions policy against Myanmar is not working,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s like giving only half doses of medication and then hoping it will work as a full dose.”

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