International Community Must Stand with Myanmar as It Does with Ukraine

March 4th, 2022  •  Author:   Progressive Voice  •  9 minute read
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“The situation in Ukraine has shown that the international community can act swiftly and in a largely united way, punish Russia for its violent actions. It is essential that Myanmar’s democratic resistance receives the same support and solidarity that Ukraine is currently receiving.”

As the world reacts to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the solidarity expressed by Myanmar’s Spring Revolution forces stands in stark contrast to the Myanmar junta’s support of Putin’s violent acts. Just as the world feels outrage and anger about the situation in Ukraine and Russia’s actions, continued airstrikes in Myanmar and the devastation they are causing must translate into urgently needed, effective and targeted sanctions to hinder the use of such weaponry, as well as material support for the people who are trying to protect themselves from the military’s violence.

The military junta is one of the few voices worldwide to express support for the invasion of Ukraine, stating that Russia was protecting its sovereignty. Given the close ties between Russia and the Myanmar military, particularly regarding weapons purchases, this is of no great surprise. Myanmar’s legitimate government, the National Unity Government (NUG), however, has condemned Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, stating that “Myanmar stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.” Protesters throughout Myanmar offered their solidarity, with Ukrainian flags being sighted at anti-junta demonstrations throughout the country. The strength and bravery of people protesting against war in Russia, or resisting in Ukraine, or the thousands of peaceful protesters, armed resistance groups and ethnic armed organizations in Myanmar resisting and defying the military junta’s attacks, demonstrates where the battles against violent domination, corruption and autocracy will be won. It is on the streets and in the jungles, where the people are putting their lives on the line in a fight for a better world, where power to defeat violent militaries lies.

The invasion of Ukraine has brought back deeply unpleasant reminders of February last year, when the military started its failed attempt to grab power. Not that the nightmare has abated in any way for the people of Myanmar, as the military junta continues to use indiscriminte violence, targets civilians, tortures, murders, and abuses throughout the country. Just this past week, the junta has bombed civilian areas in Karenni State, burned down villages in Sagaing Region, tortured peaceful youth protesters in Magwe Region, and taken 80 children hostage from a pre-school in Chin Pone Village, Sagaing Region as they try to force fleeing villagers to return to a village.

The weapons that the Myanmar military has been using on the people come from, unsurprisingly, Russia, among others. In a report issued to the UN Human Rights Council on 22 February, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, outlined the countries that have been selling weapons to the junta, both since February 2018, not long afer the Rohingya genocide of 2017, as well as since the failed coup of February 2021. He highlights how “UN Security Council members Russia and China continue to provide the military junta with numerous fighter jets, armored vehicles, and in the case of Russia, the promise of further arms.” It should be noted that Ukraine has also sold weapons to the Myanmar military, but not since the failed coup of last year.

As the UN Special Rapporteur, Myanmar civil society and human rights organizations have repeatedly stated, there needs to be a global arms embargo imposed on Myanmar to stop the sales of arms that kill innocent people, destroy people’s homes, and wipe out people’s livelihoods. The increasing reversion to aerial firepower by the military junta demonstrates that the only way it can assert power is through brute force, manifest in indiscriminate shelling from helicopter attacks and airstrikes. Thus, not only must arms sales be banned, but aviation fuel should also be sanctioned.

In this respect, the EU’s recent move to sanction Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), which is a junta controlled entity, is welcome. The oil and gas sector provides the junta with up to $1.5 billion a year in foreign currency revenue, and more countries must follow. This includes Japan, which, through the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and private companies, Mitsubishi Corporation and ENEOS, partner with MOGE to exploit the Yetagun gas field. Friends of the Earth Japan and Mekong Watch have urged METI, Mitsubishi and ENEOS “to swiftly organize a responsible withdrawal while ensuring that the revenue from the project is not paid to the Myanmar military, to avoid further complicity in human rights abuses by the military.” Similarly, the Korean company, POSCO, partnering with MOGE, has just started drilling an offshore gas field off the coast of Rakhine State.

If Min Aung Hlaing and his band of terrorists feel that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine can embolden them to further commit acts of unspeakable violence against the people of Myanmar, friends of Myanmar in the international community must do all they can to support the people’s resistance.  This includes the UN Security Council taking concrete action to impose a global arms embargo and refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court – actions they have failed to take so far. The sanctioning of MOGE, a success of the hard campaigning work of Myanmar civil society and regional and international organizations in solidarity, shows that pressure on international governments can have concrete results. The less money that the junta receives from oil and gas sales, the less money it has to purchase weapons from the likes of Russia to murder innocent people. Similarly, if aviation fuel is not sold to the military’s airforce, they cannot bomb villages in rural Myanmar.

The situation in Ukraine has shown that the international community can act swiftly and in a largely united way, punish Russia for its violent actions. It is essential that Myanmar’s democratic resistance receives the same support and solidarity that Ukraine is currently receiving. The Spring Revolution will be won by the people. But, concrete, material support and punitive measures including oil and gas sanctions can further weaken the Myanmar military that is already stretched, under-resourced, and facing a determined and resolute resistance. Such timely coordinated actions from the international community, just like Ukraine is receiving, is the only piece missing that is needed for a final push that will fell the Myanmar military once and for all.


[1] One year following the 1988 pro-democracy uprising, the former military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar overnight. Progressive Voice uses the term ‘Myanmar’ in acknowledgement that most people of the country use this term. However, the deception of inclusiveness and the historical process of coercion by the former State Peace and Development Council military regime into usage of ‘Myanmar’ rather than ‘Burma’ without the consent of the people is recognized and not forgotten. Thus, under certain circumstances, ‘Burma’ is used.

Resources from the past week


Statements and Press Releases

မြန်မာအရပ်ဘက်လူထုအဖွဲ့အစည်းများမှ ကုလသမဂ္ဂအထူးကိုယ်စားလှယ်နှင့်တွေ့ဆုံခြင်း

By 20 Myanmar Civil Society Organizations

Press Statement: Myanmar CSOs Meet with the UN Special Envoy

By 20 Myanmar Civil Society Organizations

Serbian Arms Exports to Burma Exposed by UN and Myanmar Witness

By Burma Campaign UK

Burma Campaign UK Welcomes New EU Sanctions – MOGE Included

By Burma Campaign UK

EU Sanctions on Junta’s Oil and Gas Send Strong Message

By Burma Human Rights Network

Myanmar/Burma: EU Imposes Restrictive Measures on 22 Individuals and 4 Entities in Fourth Round of Sanctions

By Council of the European Union

Authoritarian Rule Challenging Democracy as Dominant Global Model

By Freedom House

Global Witness Welcomes Significant New EU Sanctions, Including on Myanmar State-Owned Oil and Gas Company MOGE

By Global Witness

Myanmar: EU Needs to Enforce New Sanctions on Junta

By Human Rights Watch

The Upcoming 5th BIMSTEC Summit on March 30 in Sri Lanka Must Respect Calls from Myanmar Democracy Movement

By India For Myanmar

Myanmar: Detainments Escalate as Press Freedom Continues to Decline Under Myanmar’s Military Junta

By International Federation of Journalists

JFM Welcomes EU Sanctions, Including on Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise

By Justice For Myanmar

Statement Regarding the Issues Arising from the CSO Joint Statement, Presented to UN Special Envoy During the Meeting Between the SE and Myanmar CSOs

By Khin Ohmar, Progressive Voice

ဂမ်ဘီယာ နှင့် မြန်မာနိုင်ငံမှုခင်းအပေါ် ကမ္ဘာ့တရားရုံး ICJ တွင် ဖေဖော်ဝါရီလ ၂၁ ရက်နေ့ကြားနာမှု နှင့် စပ်လျဉ်း၍ ဥပဒေရေးရာ သုံးသပ်ချက်

By Legal Aid Network

ချောက်မြို့၌ အသက်မပြည့်သေးသော ကလေးငယ်များကို တရားမဲ့ ဖမ်းဆီး နှိပ်စက်နေမှုနှင့် စပ်လျဉ်း၍ သဘောထားထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာခြင်း

By Magway People’s Revolution Committee

#MilkTeaAlliance Statement on the Situation in Ukraine

By Milk Tea Alliance

ပြည်သူလူထုပိုင်အိုးအိမ်များအား မတရားချိတ်ပိတ်သိမ်းဆည်းနေမှုများနှင့် ပတ်သက်သည့် ထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

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By National Unity Government

အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်အုပ်စုက ယင်းမာပင်မြို့နယ်မှ မူကြိုကလေးငယ် ၈၀ ဦးခန့်ကို ဓားစာခံအဖြစ် ဖမ်းဆီးထားသည့်အပေါ် ထုတ်ပြန်ချက်

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Human Rights and Ministry of Women, Youths and Children Affairs)

Statement on Ukraine

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

အကြမ်းဖက်စစ်အုပ်စုအား လေယာဉ်ဆီတင်သွင်းပံ့ပိုးနေသော လုပ်ငန်းများဆိုင်ရာ ထုတ်ပြန်ကြေညာချက် (၂/၂၀၂၂)

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Commerce)

Statement on the Appointment of EU Special Envoy for Myanmar and the Fourth Round of EU Sanction

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Press Statement on ICJ by H.E. Daw Zin Mar Aung, Union Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the National Unity Government of Myanmar

By National Unity Government (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Myanmar: UN Expert Urges Security Council Resolution to Stop Weapons Fueling Spike in Military Attacks on Civilians

By Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Disgraceful ICJ Decision Irresponsible and Unnecessary Delay to Justice

By Special Advisory Council for Myanmar

UNHCR Representation in Myanmar – Fact Sheet February 2022 [EN/MY]

By United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

UN Expert Urges Security Council Resolution to Stop Weapons Fueling Spike in Military Attacks on Civilians

By United Nations Human Rights Council



Diaspora Organizations and their Humanitarian Response in Myanmar

By Danish Refugee Council

Global: Older People at Heightened Risk in Conflict

By Human Rights Watch

Myanmar Case Study: Psychosocial Support at Child-Friendly Spaces (Value for Money: Efficiency) January 2022

By Save the Children

Myanmar Emergency Update (as of 15 February 2022)

By United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Enabling Atrocities: UN Member States’ Arms Transfers to the Myanmar Military

By UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, UN Human Rights Council

Progressive Voice is a participatory, rights-based policy research and advocacy organization that was born out of Burma Partnership. Burma Partnership officially ended its work on October 10, 2016 transitioning to a rights-based policy research and advocacy organization called Progressive Voice. For further information, please see our press release “Burma Partnership Celebrates Continuing Regional Solidarity for Burma and Embraces the Work Ahead for Progressive Voice.”