Will Russian aid for Myanmar give Moscow an Asian foothold?

Feb 8, 2023 | Myanmar, Russia

Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of Myanmar's ruling military junta, has visited Russia three times since the coup. Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

As Myanmar this month marks two years since the country’s democratically elected government was overthrown in a military coup, Russia remains a key supporter of Myanmar’s ruling junta, both diplomatically and materially.

Myanmar did not join in the international condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, and Moscow has consistently blocked UN Security Council resolutions condemning Myanmar’s coup.

Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of the Southeast Asian nation’s military — called the Tatmadaw — is seeking domestic and international legitimacy. Hlaing has visited Russia three times since the coup. 

In September 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin met Hlaing on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum. 

“Russia is not proactive, but rather reactive” when it comes to its ties with Myanmar, said Alexey Kirichenko, assistant professor at the Moscow State University. “This is a longstanding relationship that has been evolving for at least twenty years. It is not a desperate attempt to find a partner, but a situation in which both sides have something to offer to each other.”

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