Myanmar to import Russian oil, military says

The Southeast Asian nation maintains friendly relations with Russia, although both countries remain under sanctions from Western countries – Myanmar for a military coup that toppled an elected government last year, and Russia for an invasion of Ukraine that it calls a “Special military operation.

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

“We have received permission to import gasoline from Russia,” military spokesman Zaw Ming Tong told a press conference on Wednesday, adding that “quality and low cost” are preferred.

Zo Min Tun said junta chief 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.

According to a statement published in a state-run newspaper on Wednesday, the military has set up a Russian oil procurement committee, chaired by close ally Min Aung Hlaing, to oversee the purchase, import and transport of fuel at reasonable prices based on Myanmar’s needs.

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

Gasoline prices have risen about 350% since the coup last February to 2,300-2,700 kyats (about $1) per litre.

Gas stations in various parts of the country closed last week due to fuel shortages, according to media reports.

Russia is also a major arms supplier to the Myanmar armed forces.

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