Since the February 1st coup in Myanmar, the US and its allies have imposed a slew of sanctions on Myanmar’s military and demanded the generals relinquish control of the country. Despite the Western pressure, hundreds of protesters have been killed in demonstrations against the coup, and the situation only seems to be getting worse.
Russia on Tuesday warned that Western interference in Myanmar is “futile” and risks driving the country into a full-scale civil war. “A course towards threats and pressure, including the use of sanction tools against the current Myanmar authorities, is futile and extremely dangerous,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement, according to the news agency Interfax.
“In fact, such a line contributes to playing off the sides and, ultimately, pushes the Myanmar people towards a full-scale civil conflict,” the ministry said, adding that Russia “consistently opposes the practice of unilateral sanctions imposed by individual states bypassing the UN Security Council.”
Besides targeting military officials, Western sanctions have also hit major conglomerates that are controlled by the military and make up a large portion of Myanmar’s economy. The US has also frozen assets the military held in the US and cut off aid that was going to Myanmar’s government, although the vast majority of US assistance to the country, an estimated $108.65 million requested for 2021, is still flowing since it goes directly to organizations inside the country.
France said on Tuesday that the EU is preparing more sanctions against Myanmar. “We are going to add economic sanctions at the level of the 27 [EU countries] … against the economic entities linked to the army so that they can be applied very quickly,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
While Myanmar is nowhere near as sanctioned as countries like Iran are, even the targeted measures like the ones imposed by the US will hurt the civilians Washington claims it is trying to help, especially since the military controls much of Myanmar’s economy. With the US cutting Myanmar’s military out of global markets, it gives the Junta more reason to consolidate domestic power.