Russia’s Sergey Lavrov directs BRICS foreign ministers to a shared future

Russia’s Sergey Lavrov directs BRICS foreign ministers to a shared future. Picture: File

Russia’s Sergey Lavrov directs BRICS foreign ministers to a shared future. Picture: File

Published Jun 16, 2024


In an international world order that is constantly undergoing changes of great significance – shaking the domineering Western ethos to core – BRICS is increasingly proving to be a catalyst for the global south as it leads the reconfiguration of global affairs.

This week’s crucial meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs in the city of Nizhny Novgorod in Russia was a statement of unmistakable intent to challenge the US-led Western hegemony.

The meeting started remarkably with a minute of silence for former Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi and Iran’s former foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, who died in a helicopter crash alongside seven others last month.

The Foreign Ministers’ meeting is one of many events that have been lined up by the Russian Federation as part of its 2024 BRICS Presidency agenda leading up to the 16th BRICS Summit in Kazan later this year.

Speaking during the opening of the meeting, host Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s veteran Minister of Foreign Affairs, said: “Russia, as well as the countries of the world majority, is in favour of an equal world order based on balance of power and equal interaction of states.”

Russia’s has argued consistently that Nato’s expansion eastward poses an existential threat to Russia, whose security is compromised by a Nato that wants to operate from inside Ukraine.

The BRICS Foreign Affairs ministers’ meeting came up at a very important time in geopolitics that are characterised by developments such as Ukraine, Gaza, Syria and Libya, among others.

It is also the first meeting of foreign ministers since BRICS was expanded during the bloc’s 15th summit that was held in South Africa last year. In addition to the original members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), the following countries were accepted into the strategic bloc in 2023.

They are Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Argentina, which has since pulled back following the change of government.

Among the attendees in Nizhny Novgorod this week were SA’s minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Shoukry, Brazil’s Mauro Vieira and China’s Wang Yi.

More than 30 countries have already applied to join BRICS this year. Among them is Turkey, interestingly – a Nato member that has moved closer to the global south in recent times.

Turkey was represented at the meeting by its foreign minister, Hakan Fidan, who expressed hope that Turkey would be accepted into the fold when the Heads of State of BRICS meet at the 16th summit in Kazan around October.

The meeting also took place in the Outreach/BRICS-plus format. The aim was to boost engagement with countries of the Global South and East, including Cuba, Venezuela and Sri Lanka. They were part of the 25 additional countries that attended the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting. They included representatives of regional bodies such as the AU, the Arab League, ASEAN and SCO.

BRICS has increasingly become a rallying home for the nations of the majority world that are bullied by their powerful counterparts in the Global North that insist on a world order based on their belief systems they frame as a “rules-based order”.

Minister Lavrov painted BRICS as “an association where the principles of equal cooperation are actually implemented”.

It is a kind of language that appeals to the majority world nations that feels vulnerable. A global body such as BRICS where regardless of the military or economic size members are respected as equals has become a to-go-to bloc in search of something different to the domineering Western institutions that do not practice what they preach.

Judging by the wave of support and applications to join the bloc, BRICS is the future of world politics. Lavrov told delegates that “the group is driven forward by the wind of change and its role in global processes will only increase”.

He added: “The transition to a new world order will take a whole historical epoch, and it will be thorny; as the US is trying to slow down the formation of multipolarity, using trade as black mail. The West does not shy away from forceful methods, the examples of which are known to all.”

Lavrov further said to the delegates at the two-day meeting that “recent international events have dropped the masks of those who claimed the exclusive right to dictate their values to everyone”.

In recent times, BRICS member-states have opted to dump the US dollar as their trading currency. Instead, the members of the bloc trade in their local currencies among each other. They are also working ways of exiting the US-dominated international payment system known as SWIFT.

According to a report by Lavrov, “BRICS members are working to improve the international financial system, in particular, to create a platform for international trade”.

The BRICS bloc is also working on ways to establish a common currency. All the moves are intended to break free from the US-led rules and regulations that are hinged on the international use of the US dollar, an act that subject any US dollar user liable to US national laws.

The enormous power of the US has also seen Washington impose blockade on adversarial states such as Cuba, whose economy is on its knees following more than 60 years of blockade by the US. Venezuela is also under a US blockage, and the country’s wealth from oil has been suffocated by Washington’s unilateral sanctions that are practically binding internationally.

The sanctions regime that the US imposes on geopolitical opponents is invariably supported by Washington’s allies in the G7. The G7 has become a parallel structure to the UN, but more powerful.

It is such glaring international inequities that are rapidly driving dozens of countries to the entrance door of BRICS. They are crying out for a sense of belonging where their security will be guaranteed through absence of threats to their very being.

The rise of China in international affairs is also something the BRICS nations embrace. Speaking at the end of the foreign ministers’ meeting, China’s Minister Wang said Beijing “advocates for convening a genuine peace conference that will be recognised by both Russia and Ukraine”.

His remarks appear to poke a hole at the so-called Ukraine Peace Conference in Switzerland, where Russia has not been invited.

But leading BRICS countries have also shunned the conference in Switzerland, including SA, Brazil, India and China.

As the West continues to engage in war-mongering and Russophobia, the antagonism provides a chance for peace-loving nations such as China to propose alternative methods that could bring about peace where there is conflict.

BRICS has become a welcome breath of fresh air. Earth-shaking resolutions and announcements are expected when the heads of state meet in Kazan later in the year. A lot of work is currently underway, away from the public noise and unwanted attention. BRICS is the future.

Sunday Independent

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