BRUSSELS, August 11 (IPS) – On August 3, residents of Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw were suddenly awakened by the sound of military helicopters overhead. Helicopters hover around the city all day. The road to the regime’s foreign ministry was also blocked off for hours.
Even though they don’t know the reason, it shows that someone important arrived in Naypyitaw. They did not know who the visitor was because all communication was also interrupted. But Russian media reported that their country’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, was on his way to Naypyitaw.
Lavrov’s visit comes as the authorities have sparked renewed international outrage with execute of four opponents, including a former lawmaker and a prominent human rights activist, in the country’s first use of the death penalty in decades. Lavrov previously visited Naypyitaw in 2013.
Prime Minister Min Aung Hlaing has visited Russia several times since 2013, most recently in July. However, he has yet to meet the country’s president, Vladimir Putin.
The international response to Myanmar’s coup and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to a toxic convergence between the two “pariah” states, Sebastian Strangio concludes in The Diplomat on August 5.
“A True and Loyal Friend”
The regime’s foreign minister, Wunna Maung Lwin, devised a working lunch for the Russian launch at the Aureum Palace hotel, owned by U TezaChairman of Htoo Group, one of the main brokers of arms deals between Myanmar and Russian militaries.
After the meeting, regime said “supporting both sides in the multilateral arena on mutual trust and understanding.” Ms. Wunna Maung Lwin expressed “deep appreciation to the Russian Federation, a true friend of Myanmar, for its consistent support for Myanmar, both bilaterally and multilaterally.”
Lavrov then met regime leader Min Aunging at the presidential residence, which has been renamed the “Office of the State Administrative Council (SAC)” since last year’s coup. Min Aung Hlaing said that Russia and Myanmar established diplomatic relations in 1948 and plan to hold their Diamond Jubilee next year.
Lavrov be praised Myanmar as a “friendly and long-term partner”, adding that the two countries “have a very solid foundation to build cooperation in many fields”. Foreign Minister Lavrov said the Russian government was “uniting in resolving the situation in the country”. He also wished the State Administrative Commission (SAC) success in the elections it is scheduled to hold in August 2023 to officially legalize the takeover.
Calling Russia a “true and loyal friend” is not wrong. In fact, Russia (along with China) has staunchly supported the regime in the UN Security Council. As permanent members of the council, these two key countries used their veto powers to avoid targeting the Myanmar regime.
However, in his comments, Lavrov, does not mention the daily work of the army air strike on civilians. After all, these advanced fighters and helicopters are all Russian-made.
Report on meeting between Lavrov and Min Aung Hlaing, state agency Global new light of Myanmar wrote about the two nations’ ambition to become “permanent friendly nations and eternal allies” who would help each other “manage their internal affairs without interference.” from the outside”.
As cynical as it may sound, “because Myanmar looks more like Syria or South Sudan today”, the meeting between Lavrov and Min Aung Hlaing was like a handshake of a “criminal partner”.
Mr. Lavrov was on his way to Cambodia on Wednesday afternoon to attend a meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).ASEAN). Myanmar’s foreign minister has been banned for not complying with the provisions of April 2021 5 point consensus plan.
ASEAN Special Envoy Prak Sokhonnwho has made two trips to Myanmar since the coup, stoked expectations of major developments in the near term: “I don’t think even Superman can solve the Myanmar problem.”
Russia is the main supplier of weapons to the military
To this day, Russia is a big country weapons supplier arrive Myanmar Army. Russia has been accused by human rights group sold the regime many of the weapons it has used to attack civilians since last year’s coup. Moscow already supplies warplanes, helicopters and air defense systems to Myanmar, and it’s no secret that regime leaders prefer military equipment from Russia to China.
So far, Moscow has primarily viewed Naypyitaw as a military and technical partner, with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu leading efforts to make Russia the main supplier of advanced weapons to Myanmar. Russia has also provided graduate training to at least 7,000 Myanmar officers since 2001.
In addition to military ties, Shoigu also sees an interest in securing a highly committed partner where South and Southeast Asia meet, in addition to Russia’s longstanding partnerships with India and Vietnam. Until recently, the two countries’ economic and non-military trade relations remained modest, but appeared to be deepening.
Moscow also now wants to expand diplomatic, economic, trade and security ties with Myanmar. When Russia invaded Ukraine, government troops were among the first to support the Kremlin. A military spokesman said Russia remains a powerful country with a role in maintaining the balance of power for world peace.
In recent months, the two countries have established direct banking and financial channels to support increased bilateral trade, including Myanmar’s purchase of Russian energy products.
Indeed, after the coup, the main oil and gas multinational – which includes Total, Chevron, Petronas, Woodside and Eneos – has announced its withdrawal from Myanmar, and the regime is eager to find replacements to develop and exploit new and existing gas fields.
Russia’s Rosneft, which has conducted limited onshore oil and gas exploration in Myanmar for a decade, said in April 2021 it planned to drill test wells.
A hug or a squeeze?
As one International Crisis Group (ICG) announced on August 4 that the coup in Myanmar and the war between Russia and Ukraine have pushed the two sides into a tight embrace.
Russia has relentlessly supported the regime since it took power; The country was one of the few countries to send representatives to the Armed Forces Day parade in March 2021 – which coincided with the violent crackdown on anti-coup protesters – and has continued arms delivery to Myanmar.
At the same time, the SAC has expressed strong support for Russia since its invasion of Ukraine. Although Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations, who had pledged to support the democratic resistance, voted in favor of resolutions condemning Moscow’s aggression.
A day after the invasion, an army spokesman said the invasion was “justification for the permanence of their country’s sovereignty”. In late July, Senior Lieutenant General Min Aung Hlaing visited Moscow, where he spoke with Russian officials about deeper defense cooperation and the possibility of cooperation in energy projects.
“Faced with tougher international sanctions and diplomatic isolation, the two countries are actively seeking to strengthen their security and economic ties.” ICG the briefing said. This toxic convergence is inevitable: increasingly isolated from the West, Myanmar’s military regime in Moscow has sought advanced weapons systems and technical training for military officers. which may be difficult to obtain elsewhere. curb heavy reliance on ‘neighboring countries’ Chinahave also been selected to recognize the SAC government.
For Russia, closer ties with Myanmar offer an opportunity to boost arms sales, while undermining Western efforts to forge a global coalition to counter Russian adventurism. in Ukraine. With each other besieged, the ICG notes, Myanmar and Russia “are likely to overlook the potential long-term downsides of their burgeoning relationship for short-term gains.”
No way back?
The regime in Myanmar is isolated and faces sanctions and convictions at home and abroad. It has also struggled over the past year to crush armed resistance. Since invading Ukraine, Moscow has also faced Western sanctions and has waged a lengthy and costly military campaign there. As both countries became more heavily sanctioned and diplomatically isolated, the importance of their relationship with each other increased.
Min Aung Hlaing apparently chose to cause total destruction. He sent government leaders to prisons, including deposed state adviser Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Last month, he ordered the execution of prominent activists, including a lawmaker. There doesn’t seem to be a turn away from the regime.
Jan Servaes is the UNESCO Chair of Communication for Sustainable Social Change at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has taught ‘international communication’ in Australia, Belgium, China, Hong Kong, USA, Netherlands and Thailand, alongside short-term projects at around 120 universities in 55 countries. He is the editor of the 2020 Media Handbook for Development and Social Change
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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service