Junta shrugs off new EU sanctions aimed at its oil riches

The Yadana oil field, Gen.  Zaw Min Tun, inset. Original photos: Total Energies, Tatmadaw Information Team
The Yadana oil field, Gen. Zaw Min Tun, inset. Original photos: Total Energies, Tatmadaw Information Team

The junta’s chief propagandist today dismissed the European Union’s new sanctions imposed on Myanmar’s military.

Gen. Zaw Min Tun, the military government’s information minister, criticized the new raft of sanctions targeting its profitable state-owned oil and gas operations would have little effect on a sector already hampered by sanctions.

He told Bloomberg that while some companies comply with sanctions, others ignore them, though they still face some financial issues.

“We are likely to face some difficulties in bank transactions, so we have to address some bank issues, more or less,” he said in a telephone interview.

The union’s fourth tranche of sanctions comes more than a year after the coup and focuses on the petrochemical profits that have been a major source of money for the junta. The bloc said 22 individuals and military supporters were named on its new list, which singles out four institutions including state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.

Myanmar’s oil and gas sector has come under international scrutiny as one of the junta’s most crucial sources of revenue and cash flow. 

With existing EU restrictions remaining in place, the new sanctions freeze the assets, bar the provision of funds and travel in Europe for the listed individuals and entities. 

Zin Mar Aung, the government in exile’s top diplomat, expressed appreciation for the new sanctions and said aviation fuel should be up next.

“The new EU sanctions on the military junta and its allies are welcomed by the shadow government,” he wrote in a tweet. “These sanctions are crucial because they target one of the military’s key sources of financing, MOGE. The next set of penalties should be aimed at aviation fuel.”

Activist group Justice for Myanmar also welcomed the decision in a statement calling the sanctions “a strong signal that the illegal Myanmar junta cannot continue business as usual.”

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