External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will on Thursday join his counterparts from China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa in a virtual meeting of the BRICS Foreign Ministers, coming ahead of the leaders’ summit expected next month.
The leaders’ summit this year will also be held virtually, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi joining China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. This will be the first BRICS leaders’ gathering since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the grouping emerging as a valuable platform for an isolated Russia that is facing crippling sanctions from the West.
China has broadly backed Russia’s stand on Ukraine. It has blamed NATO for the crisis, and called for the “legitimate security concerns” of all countries to be respected — a position that BRICS is likely to endorse.
Mr. Xi will host the summit next month as China is the chair of BRICS for this year. The summit, as well as Thursday’s meeting to be chaired by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, will include other emerging countries as part of the “BRICS Plus” mechanism, aimed at growing the footprint of the five-member grouping. Argentina has confirmed it will attend both meetings.
BRICS Plus dialogue
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday that the Foreign Ministers’ virtual meeting on Thursday will see the five countries take part in a “BRICS Plus dialogue” and send a message of solidarity on giving developing countries a greater say in global governance.
The “BRICS Plus” mechanism is seen as a way for the five countries to broaden their outreach with other developing countries, although the group is unlikely to include new members. The BRICS-backed New Development Bank has, however, already inducted new members, with Bangladesh and the UAE joining last year, and Egypt and Uruguay set to join the financial institution.
Sanctions against Russia
Russia is hoping that its cooperation with BRICS countries can help reduce some of the pressures it is facing under Western sanctions, which none of the BRICS countries have supported.
Speaking at the BRICS Finance Ministers meeting last month, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov called for the use of national currencies for BRICS countries, integration of payment systems, their own financial messaging system, and the creation of a BRICS rating agency.
But beyond statements of support, the BRICS countries may, however, only be able to offer limited assistance to Russia on circumventing sanctions. Even Chinese financial institutions, for instance, have largely been adhering to Western sanctions fearing the repercussions of being targeted for violating them. The BRICS New Development Bank announced in March that it had suspended all projects in Russia.