Myanmar 2022: fragmented sovereignties and the escalation of violence in multiple warscapes

Matteo Fumagalli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The events that followed the military coup of February 2021, and the violence that ensued throughout 2022 serve as stark reminders that any notion that Myanmar is and operates as a single polity are a fiction, and one that neither captures the complex reality on the ground nor serves to guide policy to contain violence and assist the population on the ground.

Instead, Myanmar is currently home to a variety of constantly evolving geographies of war (‘warscapes’), which largely differ from each other in terms of the actors involved, alliances, agendas and outcomes. An analysis of the political dynamics in these warscapes, the economic situation therein, and the degree of transnational ties and involvement suggests the emergence of a condition of fragmented sovereignty across the territory of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

Just like in the pre-2011 period, when the prevailing narrative was one of Myanmar’s international isolation, the regime actually entertains a wide range of relations with countries both close and afar. Russia, in particular, has emerged as the junta’s strongest backer. The military regime is among the staunchest supporters of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The economy and the livelihoods of millions have been devastated by the violence. Western investors have mostly retreated. The economy barely functions. Aid supply has become difficult to provide due to increasing regulation and restrictions.

Neither side was able to prevail in 2022, with multiple conflicts protracted, when not intractable, and violence escalating.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10
Pages (from-to)261-280
Number of pages20
JournalAsia Maior
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2023


  • Myanmar
  • Fragmented sovereignties
  • Warscapes
  • Aid
  • Russia
  • China
  • Sanctions


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