Myanmar ’s junta leader and a senior Russia security official on Monday committed to improving ties between their two countries, Russia’s Security Council said in a statement. Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy government in February. Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing travelled to Moscow for a three-day international security conference kicking off on Tuesday which brings together defence officials from across the globe. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier on Monday said President Vladimir Putin would not be meeting with Min Aung Hlaing, Interfax reported. Russia’s Security Council said its chief Nikolai Patrushev had met Min Aung Hlaing and discussed the “fight against terrorism, issues related to regional security” and foreign interference in Myanmar. The officials “reaffirmed their desire to further strengthen bilateral cooperation” between Russia and Myanmar, it added. This is Min Aung Hlaing’s second known trip abroad since he seized power. Myanmar state television on Sunday reported that the junta chief was attending the conference in Russia, an ally and major arms supplies to the Myanmar military. The junta’s brutal crackdown on dissent has since killed at least 870 civilians since the February coup, according to a local monitoring group. Myanmar junta leader Min Aung Hlaing departs for Russia security conference Min Aung Hlaing’s visit comes after the UN General Assembly took the rare step on Friday of calling on member states to “prevent the flow of arms” into Myanmar. The resolution – which did not go so far as to call for a global arms embargo – also demands that the military “immediately stop all violence against peaceful demonstrators”. It was approved by 119 countries, with 36 abstaining including China, Myanmar’s main ally, and Russia. Only one country, Belarus, voted against it. Meanwhile, the UN’s top human rights body opened its latest session on Monday and was immediately embroiled in a debate over the representation of Myanmar. Western countries said two planned debates about the human rights situation in Myanmar during the Human Rights Council’s three-week session should go forward, even without the country represented. But China, the Philippines and Venezuela insisted it should be on hand. Myanmar has not been represented at the UN in Geneva since the civilian government’s ambassador left after the junta took over. The UN General Assembly’s credentials committee is facing a decision about which representation of Myanmar will be recognised. Myanmar rejects UN resolution that urges arms embargo Moscow in April said it opposed sanctions against the junta in Myanmar, warning that punitive measures could spark a large-scale civil conflict in the country. While the Kremlin said it was “concerned” by the civilian casualties in the Myanmar protests, Russia has sought to develop ties with the junta. A Russian deputy defence minister in March joined an annual parade showcasing Myanmar’s military prowess, including Russian-made jets, tanks and helicopters. Min Aung Hlaing attended crisis talks with leaders of the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) bloc in Jakarta in April – his first overseas trip since he seized power. The meet produced a “five-point consensus” statement that called for the “immediate cessation of violence” and a visit to Myanmar by a regional special envoy. But the general said in a later television interview that Myanmar was not ready to adopt the plan. A special envoy has yet to be appointed, and violence has continued across the country. Junta trial of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi hears first testimony In Myanmar on Monday, deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi thanked her supporters for defying the junta to celebrate her 76th birthday with flower protests, as her trial on a raft of criminal charges resumed. Protesters across the country on Saturday donned flowers in their hair – long a signature Suu Kyi look – to mark the birthday of the democracy icon who is under junta house arrest. Many replicated the floral hairstyle and uploaded pictures onto social media, from a former beauty queen to rebel soldiers. Suu Kyi told her lawyers “to convey her thanks and share her wishes for the people”, her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told reporters after the court hearing on Monday. He added that she was “in good health”. The hearing heard testimony that Suu Kyi broke coronavirus restrictions during last year’s elections that her National League for Democracy (NLD) party won in a landslide, and illegally imported walkie talkies. Journalists were barred from the proceedings in the special court in the capital Naypyidaw.