BRASILIA – The association of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), is a union of some of the most important emerging economies on the planet that share a vision of a balanced international system based on multipolarity rather than global international and political power being concentrated by the U.S.
The Brazilian capital of Brasília hosted the 11th BRICS summit on Wednesday and Thursday, with all five leaders in attendance. BRICS always had less of a political emphasis and instead mostly focussed on economics, with this year’s summit concentrating on “economic growth for an innovative future.” Surprisingly though, this summit proved to be far more political than previous incarnations.
Although Brazilian Presidential Candidate Jair Bolsonaro in 2018 was hostile to China and question marks hanged over whether Brazil will remain in BRICS, President Bolsonaro in 2019 has been receptive and open to the 5-state association.
When he was quizzed about the relationship between Russia and Brazil and his personal relationship with Bolsonaro, it appeared that Russian President Vladimir Putin was willing to excuse the Brazilian President’s initial hostilities and loyal subordination to Washington by claiming that the Brazilian president has been in power for only about a year and that it “always takes a while for things to adjust.”
Bolsonaro failed to bring any excitement or captivation to BRICS, and rather, it was Putin who stole the show and brought excitement to this year’s BRICS summit – a vision into 21st Century Multipolarity without the U.S. Dollar.
And although it was Brazil’s year to host BRICS, it was certainly Putin leading the initiatives to achieve a multipolar world order. To achieve a multipolar system, the global hegemony of the U.S. Dollar must end. China and Russia have always led these initiatives to de-Dollarize the global economic system, and Putin took every advantage to advance this agenda by announcing that Russia’s currency could play a more active role in trading between the BRICS countries.
Putin argued that the ruble could be used more actively in trade between the BRICS countries because Russia enjoys a stable macroeconomic situation, noting that in the last two years, several countries, including NATO member Turkey and many African states, have announced their intention to limit the use of the dollar in their trade with other countries. This is partly because of Washington’s continued threats to impose sanctions on those who trade with Iran and Venezuela.
The Russian President’s announcement that BRICS should use rubles more in treade comes off the back of this year’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum where he argued that the global “dollar domination” may be coming to an end, adding that this could happen because the US “abuses” the dollar as a “means of punishing countries.” The domination of the dollar means that the U.S. has the capability to economically strangle countries that have desires for complete sovereignty, such as Syria and North Korea.
The de-Dollarization of the global economy effectively means that states have the freedom to choose their own paths forward, and it is for this reason that Washington resists such initiatives aggressively by meddling directly and/or indirectly in the affairs of other countries. Putin recognizes this and emphasized in Brazil that BRICS stands against direct interventions in the internal affairs of foreign countries, citing Venezuela as an example where the people themselves must determine their own future.
It seemingly appears that Bolsonaro had a secondary position during the summit despite hosting the event. Putin pushed forward with the goal of using the summit as a means to promote a Multipolar system and explained that Russia is a reliable energy supplier and is “ready to expand cooperation with the BRICS countries on the use of environmentally friendly fuels.”
Russia has continually proven that it is a reliable economic partner, and with the economies of China and India booming, their demands for energy will continue to increase. However, publicly announcing that Russia is open for energy deals to BRICS is not a message to the other four member states alone, but is a message to the whole world. Putin is well aware that the leaders of nearly every country would be following the BRICS event closely, and it is likely that they would have heard his message that Russia wants to trade in rubles and supply energy.
With his push to continue the slow path of de-Dollarizing the global economy, Putin was happy to announce that Russia’s presidency of BRICS next year will be conducted under the slogan of “Partnership for global stability, common security and innovative growth.” The Russian president explained in Brasília that there will be over 150 events at next year’s summit to be mostly held in St. Petersburg, with many forums to also be hosted in Chelyabinsk and other Russian cities.
According to the Russian leader, during his BRICS presidency in 2020, Russia will promote close cooperation in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, demonstrating BRICS is also taking a stronger interest in matters of politics, crime and security.
Putin’s announcement that Russia’s mandate of the BRICS leadership will emphasize on security matters comes as this year’s summit expressed concern about the possible arms race in space between the U.S., China and Russia, as it appears that Washington wants to militarize space in an effort to maintain the dying unilateral system. All the BRICS leaders called for consultations to mediate in this new front of rivalry. BRICS called for peaceful mediation of the situation on the Korean peninsula through political and diplomatic channels, and also called for the establishment of a comprehensive convention to combat international terrorism as soon as possible.
Although the spotlight was supposed to be on Bolsonaro and Brazil, very little of interest was offered. Rather, Putin took every advantage of the BRICS platform to not only communicate to his colleagues, but also to the rest of the world, that Russia is pushing ahead with de-Dollarizing the global economy to create a more balanced international financial system. Without the do-Dollarization of the global economy, multipolarity cannot be truly achieved.
By also trading and supplying energy with rubles or other local currencies, states can more freely choose their own policies without external influence as they can more readily prepare and be less affected by U.S. sanctions. Putin has offered at this BRICS summit for Russia to be a source of finance and energy away from the U.S. unilateralism. It can be expected that Putin will take full advantage of his country’s one-year mandate of leading BRICS to not only push ahead issues of security and politics, but matters of ending the dominance of the U.S. Dollar to achieve a balanced multipolar system for the 21st century.