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Arms being sent to Myanmar from Russia

Myanmar Witness

24 Jan 2022

Report Published:

Verification of Russian arms arriving in Myanmar

Executive Summary

Open source reporting confirms that Russian-made BRDM-2M 4X4 armoured vehicles were delivered to Thilawa Port in Yangon, Myanmar on January 24, 2022.

Myanmar Witness has tracked the route of the vessel as it left Vladivostok, Russia and arrived in the port just south of Yangon.

Satellite imagery confirms the location and time of the vessel’s presence, and matches images obtained by Myanmar Witness showing the vehicles at the port.

The vehicles have been used since the coup by Myanmar’s Army in various locations throughout Myanmar as security and transport assets.

Verification of route from Russia to Myanmar

The General Cargo vessel CAPTAIN YAKUBOVICH (IMO: 8318740) left the port of Vladivostok, Russia, where it was docked between December 19 and December 28, 2021.

The following screenshot from Marine Traffic shows the route the vessel took between Russia and Myanmar.

The vessel was docked at this location 43.105170, 131.923029, which can be seen in the following image.

Arrival in Yangon

The CAPTAIN YAKUBOVICH arrived in Yangon on January 24, 2022 at 03:13 UTC time before docking at the Thilawa port (location: 16.662812, 96.251744). The time and location was confirmed through both Marine Traffic and Fleetmon.

The location of the vessel was tracked via the ship’s AIS and final location and can be seen arriving in Yangon, Myanmar below.

Verification of imagery

Images sent to Myanmar Witness and subsequently uploaded to social media show vehicles being unloaded from a vessel in the port of Myanmar, allegedly from January 24. These images can be seen below.

Geolocation and analysis of the images indicates it is indeed the CAPTAIN YAKUBOVICH, due to the features of the vessel, writing on the side, and the match with the ship’s transponder data.

The location of the vessel (16.662812, 96.251744) can also be seen on satellite imagery from Planet Labs.

Information on the vessel

General Cargo vessel CAPTAIN YAKUBOVICH is managed by Vladivostok-based AZIA Shipping Company and has a certificate to carry dangerous goods.

The screenshot below indicates the managing shipping company and its certificates, seen here.

The vessel’s outline can be identified from the company’s Russian website matching the features seen in the satellite imagery and images from the port.

Verification of cargo seen

The images obtained by Myanmar Witness show the vessel at the port in Yangon, Myanmar, and indicate a number of vehicles that appear to be unloaded from the vessel. Some of the vehicles being unloaded are BRDM-2M armoured reconnaissance/patrol vehicles. One of the images (seen below) shows the vehicles quite clearly.

Images publicly available online below show other unrelated views of the BRDM. These images were used as reference points to identify the vehicle.

The BRDM-2M is an improved version of the Soviet BRDM-2 vehicle. The upgrades are allegedly done in the AOA 103 Armored Repair Plant in Atamanovka (Zabaikalsky Krai).

The AOA 103 Armored Repair Plant is regularly provided contracts for parts for tanks and other armoured vehicles, and is located in Atamanovka, Russia, here. An image linked to this plant’s Google Maps page in November 2019 shows a BRDM-2M.

According to the SIPRI Arms Trade Registers a deal for an undisclosed number of BRDM-2Ms was reached in 2019 between Russia and Myanmar. Those were to be upgraded to the BRDM-2M version before export.

A screenshot of the SIPRI Arms Trade Register for registered arms trades from Russia to Myanmar can be seen below.

The following image from Getty Images shows the BDRM-2M near Myanmar's parliament in Naypyidaw on February 1, 2021.

The vehicles have also been seen in other media pieces about Myanmar, for example in this news package from Reuters about the coup.

Myanmar Witness has identified at least three other countries that have received the same vehicles as donations from Russia, indicating a level of arms-based influence. These have been seen in Serbia (July 2019) and Kirghizistan (April 2019), Tajikistan (October 2019). We do not know at this time whether Myanmar purchased these vehicles from Russia, or whether they are donated.

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