Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has expressed support for a Southeast Asian diplomatic effort to end the political crisis in Myanmar.
Speaking during a visit to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, Lavrov said the Five Point Consensus agreed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc should be the basis by which the situation in Myanmar can be resolved.
“In our contacts with Myanmar leaders, military leaders, we promote the position of ASEAN which should be in our view, considered as a basis for resolving this crisis and bring the situation back to normalcy,” Lavrov told reporters.
He was speaking at a video news conference following talks with his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi.
The diplomat’s comments are significant and come amid deepening engagement between Russia and Myanmar’s military, even as major global powers sanction its businesses and top leaders and call for a global ban on arms sales to the Southeast Asian country.
Marsudi emphasized the importance of the five-point consensus – which calls for an immediate end to the violence in Myanmar and the start of dialogue between all parties – and asked Russia to support its implementation.
“This requires the commitment of Myanmar’s military to cooperate with other ASEAN member countries,” she said.
Myanmar has been in crisis since its military removed Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government on February 1. The power grab unleashed nationwide anger that quickly turned into protests and strikes that were brutally suppressed by security forces. At least 892 people have been killed, while tens of thousands have been displaced amid fighting between security forces and newly formed fighter groups across the country.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who led the February coup, met ASEAN leaders in April and agreed to its peace plan. In addition to calls for dialogue and an end to violence, the plan also calls for the appointment of a special envoy and greater humanitarian access to conflict-affected areas.
The military, however, has since shown no intent to follow through and has instead reiterated its own, entirely different plan to restore order and democracy. The military’s lack of action has frustrated ASEAN’s most outspoken members, including Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
While Russia has also expressed concern about the violence in Myanmar, it is among only a few countries that have recognised Min Aung Hlaing’s government. It is a key supplier of arms and training to Myanmar’s military and has sent top officials to the country to meet the generals.
Last month, Russia also welcomed Min Aung Hlaing and a military delegation for an extended visit to Moscow, during which he gave numerous speeches and media interviews and was bestowed an honorary professorship.
Lavrov and Marsudi are scheduled to co-chair a video meeting with other ASEAN foreign ministers before the Russian envoy departs for another Southeast Asia country, Laos.