China and India have been decisive for Russia to ease the impact of sanctions imposed on the West due to the Ukraine war, as they increased their imports of Russian oil at a time when the Europe takes steps to get rid of Vladimir Putin’s country’s dependence on fossil fuels.
In June, during the BRICS virtual summit, which brings together the three countries, plus Brazil and South Africa, the intention of the Russians and Chinese was clear to strengthen the bloc to the point of making it an antagonist to the G7, the group of seven most developed economies in the world, and to create a “multipolar” world, with alternatives to relations US-dominated commercial and military.
“For the BRICS countries to assume a leadership role, today it is more necessary than ever to develop a unifying and positive policy, in order to create a system truly multipolar,” Putin said.
Last week, the head of Russia’s Federal Financial Supervision Service, Yury Chikhanchin, reported that Russia’s financial transactions with “hostile” countries ”, that is, mainly the members of the European Union (EU), United Kingdom, United States and Canada, fell 80%, while business with Southeast Asian countries, the world Arab and Central Asian and other regions continue.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reported that Argentina and Iran have started processes to join the BRICS, and there is room for further expansion: in addition to these two countries, Algeria, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Senegal, Thailand and Uzbekistan also participated in the BRICS virtual summit last month.
“The current members of the BRICS are the main countries in their regions and the tendency is to attract neighbors. Iran is a very complicated country, it suffers sanctions from the West, so maybe there is a cost to bring it [para o bloco], although it has a lot of technology, a big economy and many possibilities. Argentina would be interesting for Brazil, as it is one of our great partners, including the best partner, as it is the biggest buyer of Brazilian industrial products”, pointed out Ricardo Bruno Boff, professor of the International Relations course at the University of Vale do Itajaí ( Univali).
This already expanded Brics, with Argentina and Iran, would represent a block of almost US$ trillion, while the G7 economies (if the entire European Union is not considered, which is also represented in the group) total more than US$ 45 trillions.
In terms of population, however, the new Brics is much more representative, as it covers 3.3 billion inhabitants, while the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Japan amount to just over 770 million people.
“If the BRICS expand, in terms of institutional and normative density and in number of members, antagonism tends to be natural, because c divergent interests would begin to emerge and also a greater reaction from the G7, the US press, for example. I believe there will be friction between the two blocs, oscillating between moments of cooperation and disagreements”, projected Boff, who believes, however, that the entry of Iran and Argentina should not occur easily, due to the mutual dislike of President Jair Bolsonaro for his counterpart. Argentine Alberto Fernández, and the Brazilian’s ties with Israel, an enemy of the Iranians.
Is there a chance of a military partnership?
The Brazilian situation also opens space for the discussion of a development: can the partnership between the BRICS evolve into a military arrangement like NATO?
The other BRICS countries have defended a neutral and pragmatic stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, avoiding explicit condemnation and at the same time denying military support to Moscow.
Despite the criticisms that these governments have made of the sanctions against Russia, a declared antagonism against the West is in nobody’s interest, for market and also ideological reasons. – Brazil was even designated as a non-NATO ally when Donald Trump was the American president.
“This would be the most complicated step, because the institutionalization of a bloc Mutual defense relies heavily on the existence of an external enemy that causes the members to have a unity against it. NATO emerged against the Soviet Union. What would be the biggest enemy of the Brics? The United States is supposed to be [de China e Rússia], but Brazil, for example, does not see them as enemies and should not do so”, explains Boff.
For the researcher, another important point for this evolution to a military arrangement not to occur is the geographic discontinuity between the BRICS countries, contrary to what happens between the NATO members. Another difficulty is the border disputes between China and India.
The latter, despite buying many weapons from Russia, participates in the Quad, a forum also made up of the United States, Australia and Japan with the objective of discussing strategies to curb Chinese military expansion in the Indo-Pacific region.
Despite these contradictory internal movements, Akhil Ramesh, a member of the research institute Fórum do Pacific, pointed out in an article published on the website of the newspaper The Hill that the West seems more concerned with containing developing countries than with including them in its discussions, which makes room for the BRICS to surpass the G7.
“Unless and until the G7 adds permanent members from the Global South, the situation will not be different from what it was a hundred years ago, when these same countries were the colonizers”, he highlighted. . “Otherwise, sooner or later, the G7 will have more than 6 billion people and half the world economy against it.”