Russia has proposed a significant increase in bilateral trade with Myanmar, expecting to reach US$500 million and establish itself as a prominent trade partner. An agreement was signed between Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev and his Burmese counterpart in Naypyidaw.

The increase in trade has been predicted to rise from US$114 million to US$500 million a year by 2017 and is expected to boost development across sectors such as energy, industrial development, information technology and aviation, among others.

With the increasing severity of proposed trade sanctions against Russia by US and European Union, the possibility of Russia strengthening diplomatic relations with Asian countries seems to be a feasible option.

Russia has long fostered good diplomatic relations with Myanmar, being the only other UNSC member along with China to veto interference in the country’s internal affairs in 2007. Hence, the bilateral agreement may come as no surprise to observers considering the long-standing political and economic influence that Russia has enjoyed in Myanmar during the course of decades-long Western sanctions. Another precedent of the bilateral agreement would be the investment in Myanmar by Russian oil company Bashneft. Earlier in August, Bashneft signed a production sharing contract with Myanmar Oil and Gas Co and Sun Apex holdings. With an investment reported to be around US$38.3 million, Bashneft will own 90 percent of the operation.