On 1st February 2021, the Myanmar military regime attempted a coup d’état in Myanmar. In response, the international community condemned the regime’s attempt to seize power, leaving it with few friends. Among them is Russia, which has emerged as one of the Myanmar military regime’s key allies with an increasingly noticeable role in Southeast Asia.
This research paper looks into the little-explored subject of Russia’s policy in Myanmar and the wider region. Prepared by Dr. Anna Matveeva on behalf of the PeaceNexus Foundation, the paper is based on original research into primary and secondary sources and a number of key expert interviews conducted in Russia in December 2021 and January 2022*.
In addition to Russia’s Soviet history in Southeast Asia and changes that have occurred since the emergence of post-Soviet Russia, the paper zooms in on the bilateral relationship between Russia and Myanmar, assessing Russia’s interests in Myanmar and the potential for the expansion of its influence in the country. The analysis expands to the regional level, exploring Russia’s interests in Southeast Asia, ASEAN and its policy vis-a-vis the role of China.
The research is an independent piece of work that presents the author’s findings and analysis. While views expressed in the report belong to the author and are not necessarily those of the PeaceNexus Foundation, we hope its findings will help Myanmar civil society to improve their understanding of Russia-Myanmar relations.
Read the full report here
Read the summary here
Read the summary in Burmese here
* The research was conducted and the paper was written before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We recognize that Russia’s actions in Ukraine have dramatically impacted the geopolitical landscape, and at present it is too early to definitively assess the implications for the Myanmar military regime and Russia – Myanmar relations. However, the Myanmar military council was quick to express its support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Its spokesperson, Zaw Min Tun, made the following two points in an interview with VOA on 25 February: “No.1 is that Russia has worked to consolidate its sovereignty. I think that is the right thing to do. No. 2 is to show the world that Russia is a world power”.
PeaceNexus stands in solidarity with the people of Myanmar, Ukraine and Russia who, in response to illegal state-sponsored violence and crimes against humanity, are risking their lives to defend the principles and practices of democracy and freedom of expression.