Ukraine & Myanmar: Symmetries & Asymmetries

Brad Carlile
4 min readMay 19, 2024

I oppose injustices, whether nationwide or individual, as they act like a cancer that eats away at progress toward a better world. Injustice also harms the majority of us who are simply striving to lead meaningful and joyful lives.

In August, I read an article on the coverage of the war in Ukraine published by NPR. It struck a chord with me because I know many Ukrainian expats and first-generation Ukrainians in the US. I wholeheartedly support Ukraine’s fight for justice and all their efforts to reclaim their occupied lands. I wish I had a photography project I could undertake to maintain global awareness of their cause. The article details how the war in Ukraine has received more media coverage than any other war in history.

“…There’s more information from this war than probably any war in history. Immediately available,” said Rob Lee, a Marine veteran who’s now a military analyst with the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. — From drone videos to selfies at the front, Ukraine is the most documented war ever” By Greg Myre, former editor at NPR who is now a national security correspondent.

The article gives three reasons why the war in Ukraine is the most covered war that the world has ever seen:

  1. “…first is simply the march of technology…”
  2. “…much of Ukraine still functions despite the heavy fighting in the east and in the south.”
  3. “…Ukraine made major efforts to accommodate media.”

This article also quickly took me back to my projects on Myanmar. I’m aware that issues in Myanmar are unfamiliar to many people. To offer a bit of perspective, let me offer the following comparisons.

Myanmar & Ukraine Symmetries
Myanmar & Ukraine asymmetries Note:I also realize that these comparisons are made for dramatic effects, but still it is something to think about.
The New York Times article count is from a simple online search, if it is wrong, I will make corrections

Myanmar News Sources

There are many English-language Myanmar news sources that cover the war daily. Also, because the people of Myanmar had become highly web-connected and web-savvy before the coup, there is a large number of Facebook posts that cover personal and Myanmar-wide issues.

Sample of Myanmar News:

Sample of Myanmar Human Rights groups:

Fine Art Connection

As a western fine art photographer, I cannot directly contribute to showing the plight of those in Myanmar.

When I visited Myanmar in 2013, there was so much hope. Cellphones were prevalent, and the young absorbed everything from the web. They creatively blended influences by combining a mashup of contemporary elements and Myanmar traditions, including thanaka face paint. I was inspired and I knew, “the kids are alright.”

In 2021, the junta again seized power in a coup. Massive peaceful protests were brutally put down and un-armed civilians were slaughtered. The People’s Defense Armed Forces (PDF) was created as the military for the National Unity Government. Many joined the war against the military.

Ten years after I took photos of these marvelous kids, I wondered where they are now. In my fine art series, I intersperse panels of 2013 images with 2023/2024 photos of manually-typed words from resistance fighters. You can see my images at: www.bradcarlile.com

In list form below is the data contained in the images of tables above.

Symmetries between Ukraine and Myanmar

Population

  • Ukraine: 47 Million
  • Myanmar: 57 Million

Geographic sizes (Both among largest in their respective regions)

  • Ukraine: 603,500 square kilometers
  • Myanmar: 676,578 square kilometers

Ethnic Diversity

  • Ukraine: Ukrainians, Russians, and others
  • Myanmar: 100’s of ethnic groups

Aggressor

  • Ukraine: Russia
  • Myanmar: Junta (supported by Russian arms)

Asymmetries between Ukraine and Myanmar

News Coverage

  • Ukraine: Reasons why it is the “most documented war” ever 1) “…the march of technology”, 2) “…much of Ukraine still functions despite heavy fighting in east & south.”, 3) ”…Ukraine made major efforts to invite media.”
  • Myanmar: ?

World Support

  • Ukraine: Significant military assistance, aid, major sanctions, etc.
  • Myanmar: United States is today designating four individuals and two entities linked to Burma’s military regime

Aggressor

  • Ukraine: Russia (strategic links to China)
  • Myanmar: Junta (supported by Russian Arms)

UN Talks

  • Ukraine: 47 Million
  • Myanmar: 57 Million

UN Talks

  • Ukraine: Multiple UN General Assembly discussions/votes
  • Myanmar: UN Human Rights Critical Situation Report

News Cadence

  • Ukraine: Daily
  • Myanmar: 2023 New York Times: 28 print articles (4 on Cyclone, one on rare turtles)

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