Source: AUN News
AUGUST 11TH, BRUSSELS (IPS) – The sound of military helicopters in the air abruptly woke Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar, on August 3. All day long, the helicopters flew over the city. Hours were also spent blocking access to the foreign ministry of the dictatorship.
They were unsure of the cause, but it seemed to indicate that someone significant was visiting Naypyitaw. All communications were also hampered, so they had no idea who the distinguished visitor was. But Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, was reportedly on his way to Naypyitaw, according to Russian media.
The junta’s recent killings of four opponents, including a former lawmaker and a well-known human rights activist, in the nation’s first use of the death sentence in decades, have prompted new worldwide anger. Lavrov’s visit comes at a time when this is happening. In 2013, Lavrov made a last trip to Naypyitaw.
Since 2013, Prime Minister Min Aung Hlaing has visited Russia multiple times, with the most recent trip occurring in July. Vladimir Putin, the nation’s president, has not yet been introduced to him.
According to Sebastian Strangio’s analysis published on August 5 in The Diplomat, the world reaction to the military coup in Myanmar and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused a toxic convergence between the two “pariah” countries.
“A genuine and devoted friend”
Wunna Maung Lwin, the regime’s foreign minister, organized a working lunch for the Russian launch at the Aureum Palace Hotel, which is controlled by U Teza, the chairman of the Htoo Group of Companies of the primary middlemen in weaponry deals between the Myanmar military and Russia.
The government stated “to support both sides in the multilateral arena on mutual trust and understanding” following the meeting. “Deep gratitude to the Russian Federation, a true friend of Myanmar, for its constant support of Myanmar, both bilaterally and multilaterally,” said Wunna Maung Lwin.
Then, in the presidential residence—now known as the “Office of State Administration Council (SAC)” following last year’s coup—Lavrov met with Min Aung, the head of the regime. According to Min Aung Hlaing, Russia and Myanmar established diplomatic ties in 1948 and will commemorate their Diamond Jubilee the following year.
The two nations “have an exact recognize the takeover formallyellent foundation for building cooperation in a wide range of areas,” said Lavrov, praising Myanmar as a “friendly and long-term partner.” The Russian government, according to Lavrov, is working “solidarity in dealing with the situation in the country.” He also expressed his best wishes for the State Administrative Committee (SAC) in the elections it expects to hold in August 2023 to recognize the takeover formally.
It is OK to refer to Russia as a “genuine and devoted friend.” Russia and China have consistently supported the dictatorship in the UN Security Council. These two essential countries, permanent council members, have utilized their veto power to prevent action against the Myanmar government.
In his remarks, Lavrov did not reference the junta’s regular airstrikes against civilians. After all, these cutting-edge fighter aircraft and helicopters are produced in Russia.
The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar reported on the meeting between Lavrov and Min Aung Hlaing and spoke of the two countries’ goals to become “permanent friendly countries and permanent friends” who will support one another in “managing their internal affairs without outside intervention.”
The meeting between Lavrov and Min Aung Hlaing was akin to a handshake of “partners in crime,” despite the cynicism that “Myanmar is looking more and more like Syria or South Sudan every day.”
On Wednesday in the late afternoon, Lavrov departed for Cambodia to attend the ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting (ASEAN). Because the April 2021 5-point consensus agreement was not implemented, Myanmar’s foreign minister has been suspended.
After two trips to Myanmar since the coup, ASEAN Special Envoy Prak Sokhonn tempers hopes for significant quick development. Even Superman, in my opinion, cannot resolve the Myanmar issue.
Russia is the junta’s primary source of weapons.
Russia continues to be Myanmar’s military’s primary source of armaments. Human rights organizations have charged Russia with providing the regime with many of the weaponry it has used to attack people since the last year’s coup, provided Myanmar with fighter jets, helicopters, and air defense systems, and it is no secret that regime authorities prefer Russian to Chinese military hardware.
Until now, Moscow has viewed chiefly Naypyitaw as a military and technical partner. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is driving efforts to establish Russia as Myanmar’s top source of cutting-edge weapons. At least 7,000 Myanmar officials have received a postgraduate study from Russia since 2001.
In addition to Russia’s long-standing alliances with India and Vietnam, Shoigu sees advantages in gaining a devoted partner where South and Southeast Asia converge. Economic and non-military trade ties between the two nations have been modest up until recently, but they now seem to deepen.
Moscow wants to strengthen Myanmar’s diplomatic, economic, trade, and security ties. The junta was among the first to back the Kremlin when it invaded Ukraine. According to the junta’s spokesman, Russia is still a strong country that contributes to maintaining the balance of power for international peace.
The two nations have recently created direct banking and financial channels to promote more significant bilateral trade, notably Myanmar’s purchase of Russian energy goods.
Major oil and gas companies like Total, Chevron, Petronas, Woodside, and Eneos have announced their exit from Myanmar in the wake of the coup. They are keen to recruit replacements to develop and exploit new and current gas reserves.
The modest onshore oil and gas exploration that Russia’s Rosneft has been carrying out in Myanmar for the past ten years was announced in April 2021 as having plans to drill test wells.
A bear hug or a chokehold?
The coup According to a briefing by the International Crisis Group (ICG) released on August 4, the coup in Myanmar and the Ukraine conflict d the two sides into a close alliance.
Since the junta came to power, Russia has consistently supported it; it was one of the few nations to send officials to the Armed Forces Day parade in March 2021, which coincided with a bloody crackdown on anti-coup demonstrators and its h. It needs to provide Myanmar with armaments.
The SAC has also been vocal about its strong support for Russia since the Ukraine invasion. Although the ambassador of Myanmar to the UN, who has vowed to assist the democratic movement, has supported resolutions denouncing Moscow’s assault.
A junta spokesman claimed the invasion was “legitimate for the permanence of their country’s sovereignty” the following day. Min Aung Hlaing traveled as recently as July, discussing expanded defense codefensetion and potential energy project collaboration with Russian officials.
The ICG briefing stated that the two nations are actively looking into measures to boost their security and economic ties in light of the tighter international sanctions and diplomatic isolation. This harmful convergence must occur: Myanmar’s military dictatorship in Moscow is seeking cutting-edge weaponry and technologispecializedfor military officers that may soon be difficult to find elsewhere. Myanmar is becoming more and more cut off from the West. Reduce relReduceon China; a “neighbourineighboringthat also elected to recognize recognizedministration.
As the West organizes a worldwide coalition to oppose Russian adventurism in Ukraine, stronger ties with Myanmar present a chance for Russia to increase its arms sales. According to the ICG, Myanmar and Russia are “inclined to forgo the possible long-term disadvantages of their expanding partnership in favor of short-term benefits,” given their mutually beleaguered states.
No escape route?
The Myanmar government is isolated and is subject to domestic and international sanctions and convictions. Additionally, it has struggled in recent months to end the armed opposition. In addition to facing Western sanctions since the invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has been waging a protracted and expensive military operation there. The significance of their interactions has increased as both nations experience increased economic and diplomatic isolation.
Min Aung Hlaing has decided to cause destruction. He has imprisoned government members, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a former state adviser. Last month, he commanded the killing of well-known activists, including a politician. The regime doesn’t appear to have any options for going back.
Jan Servaes served as the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s UNESCO Chair in Communication for Sustainable Social Change. In addition to short-term initiatives at over 120 colleges in 55 countries, he taught “international communication” in Australia, Belgium, China, Hong Kong, the US, Netherlands, and Thailand. He edited the 2020 Handbook on Communication for Development and Social Change.