What are the challenges facing the BRICS countries in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war?
The BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – can be characterized as that combination of newly industrialized countries and powers that may be too important for the West to ignore. They make up a combined total of almost 42% of the earth’s population and about 27% of the planet’s land surface. Given this, any effort to uplift humanity as a whole could be a mistake if they choose to ignore this group.
A little history
While the concept had been in the works years before, the first official BRIC summit was held in June 2009. In 2011, the five countries came out in unison to condemn the West for the airstrikes in Libya.
In 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, there was little to no condemnation from the group. In fact, they abstained from a vote in the UN General Assembly that condemned Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
At the time, on Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s suggestion to bar Russia from attending a G20 meeting, BRICS foreign ministers responded in unison. “The guardianship of the G20 belongs to all member states equally,” their statement reminded him.
Also in February, only Brazil voted yes to a UN General Assembly resolution calling on Russia to end its military operations in Ukraine. The others abstained. Be careful, most BRICS countries are facing separatist movements at home.
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Challenges Facing BRICS Countries in the Russian-Ukrainian Conflict
BRICS Bank aka New Development Bank (NDB) has suspended transactions in Russia. Western efforts include removing Russian banks from the SWIFT system. As expected, this is likely to isolate Russia from international trade and is likely to be one of the biggest challenges for BRICS countries.
Reportedly, a Chinese bank with a branch in Moscow has seen an influx of Russian companies wanting to open new bank accounts. FESCO Transportations Group, a logistics and transportation company, said it would accept payments in yuan.
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India would also explore alternative payment mechanisms. One option that was supposed to be considered was the establishment of Russian companies with rupee accounts. The country has a massive agricultural sector and needs Russian fertilizers.
On the other hand, there may also be opportunities. Indian mills would literally step in to fill the supply void left by Russia. India is the second largest steel producer in the world, Russia the fifth. The demand she experiences in the sector comes from all over the world, including Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
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Point of view
Deepening a rift between West and East may not be in anyone’s interest. Especially in a world with nuclear weapons. It’s not as if the West and Russia have no common goal. The prolonged disruption of the international economic system will hurt many more than Russia.
In addition, many debates could be raised. Will this prompt BRICS countries to further question Western tutelage? Will this push Putin and Russia towards China? Could this lead to “de-dollarization”?
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