Russia’s appetite for influence and lucrative arms sales in Southeast Asia has been whetted by the latest coup in Myanmar, where isolated generals remain distrustful of China but still require allies on the United Nations Security Council.
Chinese investments had flourished in Myanmar under the now-deposed civilian government effectively led by former opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi, and the military, also known as Tatmadaw, benefitted through state owned enterprises brought under its control before Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won historic 2015 elections.
However, relations between junta leaders and Beijing have long been strained over Chinese interference across their common border – an existential threat not shared with Russia – and Beijing’s assistance to long-running ethnic insurgencies, including the sale of weapons to rebels.
Bradley Murg, a senior research fellow at the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said Russia and China are both maneuvering to protect their vested interests in Myanmar. Read more from Luke Hunt.