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Russia’s BRICS Presidency ends on a high note
March 15, 2016, 6:08 am

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, third right, and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, left, at a formal reception hosted by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in honour of the participants in the BRICS Summit and the SCO Heads of State Council Meeting on 9 July 2015 [Image: brics2015.ru]

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, third right, and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, left, at a formal reception hosted by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in honour of the participants in the BRICS Summit and the SCO Heads of State Council Meeting on 9 July 2015 [Image: brics2015.ru]

The official visit of China’s foreign minister Wang Yi to Russia on March 11, highlighted Russia and China’s similar visions of the crises in Syria and the Korean peninsula. Wang Yi’s meetings with the Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov also marked the successful ending of Russia’s 2015-2016 presidency in BRICS.

First, the two ministers agreed on most points concerning the testing of new weapons by the North Korean regime. Both Lavrov and Wang Yi stressed that UN Security Council’s resolution 2270 on North Korea must be implemented in its entirety. In Lavrov’s opinion, the resolution should restrain Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, without serving as an excuse for an increased American military presence in the region, including the deployment of the American THAAD anti-missile shield in South Korea.

Wang Yi, on his side, agreed that “the deployment of US air defense systems in South Korea will only lead to an arms race in the region” and that a deployment of such a system by the US is “beyond the actual security needs on the peninsula.” Wang Yi also praised Russia’s role in the settlement of the Syrian crisis, a position clearly contradicting the narrative coming from the US, the EU and their allies in the Middle East, which blame Russian airtsrikes for civilian casualties and for the increased migration of refugees from Syria to the EU member countries.

During his meeting with Wang Yi in Moscow, Sergei Lavrov made several angry remarks about US sanctions, imposed by the United States on certain countries and not approved by the UN’s Security Council (Russia has been a target of such sanctions since the beginning of the civil war in Ukraine in 2014). Wang Yi also condemned America’s “obsession with sanctions,” including the ones against Pyongyang, calling them “irresponsible”.

“There are growing differences between Russia and the US, as well as between China and the US, and in this situation BRICS, of which both Russia and China are members, starts to play the role of an important global alternative to the so called global West,” said Yuri Tavrovsky, a veteran Russian journalist covering Sino-Russian relations, currently working as the professor of Chinese studies at the Peoples’ Friendship University in Moscow, Russia.

The United States (and the so called “global West” standing behind Washington) gets visibly irritated by the positions of Russia, China and other BRICS countries, which often offer alternative solutions to the global problems. Usually, the solutions offered by BRICS’ members advocate dialogue and compromise, while the solutions suggested by the US and the EU make an emphasis on military force and coercion.

The recent dispatch of a group of American aircraft carriers from the US Navy’s 7th Fleet to South China Sea with a clear aim of “checking China’s ambition” was just the most recent example of this kind of attitude from the US.

“In this situation the economic projects implemented within the framework of BRICS acquire special importance,” Tavrovsky explains. “Since Russia and China were conspicuously left out of TPP and TTIP, two of US president Obama’s pet projects, it becomes especially important for China and Russia to demonstrate that they can offer their variant of global integration. BRICS is an ideal vehicle for achieving that purpose.”

The meetings of Wang Yi with Putin and Lavrov revealed that Russia and China, two key BRICS’ member countries, saw mutual cooperation as a key to their survival and independence in the face of Western pressure. Lavrov and Wang praised the synergy of China’s project of the New Silk Road (the so called Economic Beltway) and Moscow’s Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Cooperation not only with China, but also with the remaining BRICS’ members India, Brazil, and South Africa is underway in the framework of the New Development Bank, or NDB (a BRICS’ project, which started business on July 21, 2015, and which is due to start issuing actual loans in April 2016).

Also under the Russian presidency, the BRICS’ Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) started operating on September 5, 2015.

Both NDB and CRA see as their aim the provision of protection against global liquidity pressures. A lot of experts see these projects (the member states vowed to fill the New Development bank with the capital injections worth of $100 billion, while the CRA’s money pool should add another $100 billion) as viable alternatives to the American-dominated IMF, whose work has been frequently criticized by both Russia and China.

In their criticism of the “unfair” dollar-based international financial system Russia and China got full support from the Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff during the BRICS’ Leaders’ Summit in a Russian city of Ufa in July 2015. The summit in Ufa was lauded as one more achievement of the Russian presidency.

The summit in Ufa also had an important symbolic meaning for both Russia and China, since it took place in the period between the two celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the anti-fascist alliance’s victory in World War II. On May 9, Russia held its parade on the Red Square to commemorate the allies’ victory over Nazi Germany, and on September 2, China celebrated the victory over Hitler’s ally Japan by its own parade. Both parades were conspicuously ignored by the US president Barack Obama and a host of leaders of the US-allied countries.

“Obama wanted his absence to be seen as a snub to Russia and China, but it happened to be a snub to himself. Anyone familiar with the history of that war could see his absence in Moscow and Beijing as a breach with America’s own decision to support the anti-Nazi forces in 1941-1945,” commented Michael Carley, a specialist on the World War II history from the University of Montreal, Canada.

All in all, 2015-2016 was a good year for Sino-Russian relations and for BRICS solidarity in general. During its BRICS presidency, Russia did not look like the “isolated” country president Obama described in 2015. And BRICS is clearly emerging not as an “island,” but as a huge new continent in international relations and international division of labor.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the publisher's editorial policy.

3 Responses to Russia’s BRICS Presidency ends on a high note

  1. wes Reply

    April 9, 2016 at 1:16 am

    Nice piece Dmitry 🙂
    I find it fustrating that still to this day, 7 years after the BRICS first summit, that the western media ignores this obvious asset to the global financial system.
    People are totally unaware here in Canada.

    For that matter, I think independent media outlets also are soft spoken about the BRICS.
    Maybe I am overzealous, but isn’t it quite obvious this is a challenge against the US hegemony?
    If you are going to challenge that hegemony, then would it also need to include an oil alliance to push back the petrodollar?

  2. sixpack Reply

    May 3, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Russia and China DO NOT want any part of TTP or TTIP. They will destroy your economies and allow western corporate pirates the U.S. to dominate your countries. Forget entering into agreements with the U.S. that they will NEVER honor. You are better off to pass.

  3. Mike Reply

    May 25, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    It time for the empire to go down, Every empire loose to staying in power because
    they think about themselves because for money the do any think they kill Nation and create misery, remember British and Roman Empire. And capitalism Empire ramping the rope around his neck with Nineteen Trillion Debt, the death is approaching. Well, well come the BRICS is here.

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