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Myanmar inducts Indian submarine in signal to China

Myanmar submarine

The Myanmar Navy has formally inducted its first submarine on December 25—its 73rd anniversary. Commissioned as UMS Min Ye Thein Kha Thu, the INS Sindhuvir was given by India to Myanmar in October this year.

Myanmar now becomes the fifth country in south east Asia to possess a submarine after Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. The country has reportedly staved off intense pressure from China over procuring an Indian submarine, showing that the ASEAN country is moving away from traditional ally China and increasingly relying on India for military cooperation. Indian ambassador to Myanmar, Saurabh Kumar was present at the commissioning ceremony along with the top brass from the Myanmarese Navy, reports Indian news website DNA.

Named after an ancient Burmese warrior, the Myanmar Navy has been operating the Min Ye Thein Kha Thu submarine since mid-October. It had evaluated offers from four countries – Russia, China, India and North Korea before buying INS Sindhuvir.

India refurbished the submarine at Hindustan Shipyard in Visakhapatnam before handing it over to Myanmar. The Indian Navy not only provided the submarine but also provided extensive training to Myanmarese navy personnel. It also plans to provide maintenance and technical support to Myanmar. Over the last few years, Myanmar China relations have been sliding downhill for multiple reasons. Myanmar is unhappy with China for the latter's unilateral decision to build a high-tech fence along its border.

The Myanmarese military as well as its foreign ministry have written to China complaining about the wall. Senior Myanmar generals have complained on global forums about Chinese support to rebels from the Arakan Army (AA) and Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Senior General Min Aung Hlaing told the Russian media in July this year that terrorist organisations active in Myanmar are backed by ‘strong forces’ and sought international support to tackle the insurgents.

Myanmar is also sizing down the scope of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), by scaling down its offshoot – the China Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC). The submarine had become a security imperative and a matter of pride for Myanmar as China had already equipped close neighbours, Bangladesh and Thailand with submarines.

The submarine also allows it to keep an eye on the strategic waters around South Asia and South East Asia. The submarine is equipped with 40 km range wire-guided torpedoes and 3M-54 Klub anti-ship cruise missiles. The Myanmarese navy has built a submarine base in a secret location.

>Myanmar has moved closer to India</a> in defence cooperation – the two held joint maritime exercises in the Bay of Bengal, they are both curbing militant activities on their nearly 1,600-km joint border as well as planning to train more Myanmar military personnel in India. Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Army Chief General MM Naravane had visited Myanmar in October to discuss security issues and boost strategic relations—a sign of growing defence cooperation. It remains to be seen whether growing military ties with India will draw Myanmar into a broader Indo-Pacific strategy. https://indianarrative.com/world/with-china-as-factor-defence-deals-buttress-india-vietnam-strategic-ties-34060.html.