Putin is Winning the Military Warfare alongside the Economic one. New BRICS Members will Boost Multipolarity in the Russia-China Group
by Carlo Domenico Cristofori
President Vladimir Putin was asked again last Friday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum about Russia’s nuclear strategy. Recently, Moscow began to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus. Meanwhile, domestically, a public debate has started over the possibility of a first use of nuclear weapons against NATO in the context of the ongoing proxy war in Ukraine.
Putin’s answer brought no surprises. In summary: nuclear weapons remain in the toolbox of Moscow’s strategy, and there is a doctrine that stipulates conditions for their use. Should the existence of the Russian state be threatened, they will be used. However, there is no need to resort to such instruments currently.
«For all the expectations in the United States and Western Europe that Russia will suffer a strategic defeat in the conflict – the Pentagon’s stated goal – Putin doesn’t believe things are moving in that direction. The long-awaited and much-advertised Ukrainian counter-offensive is spluttering so far, resulting in heavy losses for Kiev. The Russian military, for its part, has learned from past mistakes and is holding firm» wrote on Russia Today Dmitry Trenin, research professor at the Higher School of Economics and a lead research fellow at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations. He is also a member of the Russian International Affairs Council.
Trenin highlighted: «The problem for the West is that this strategy isn’t working. Russia has found ways not only to reduce the effect of Western restrictions, but has used them to revive and stimulate domestic production. Indeed, the sanctions have done what many considered impossible: they jolted the country’s economy out of the well-trodden path of oil and gas dependency».
«Political isolation from the West has weaned Moscow from its traditional fixation on Western Europe and North America and pushed it to discover the wider world of the dynamic non-Western nations.
It is not just China and India and the rest of BRICS, but also the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. Last weekend in St. Petersburg, Putin shared the platform with the president of Algeria and received a peace mission of six African leaders. Next month, he is hosting a second Russia-Africa summit there. Since the beginning of the year, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has made three trips to the continent, visiting a dozen nations in total» the academic researcher concluded.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, stated last week that there are currently nearly two dozen states that are considering joining the bloc. Arab countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have all expressed interest in greater ties with the group, as have Iran, Argentina, Mexico, Bahrain, Indonesia, and Nigeria.
Sergey Lavrov has commented on several Arab countries applying to the bloc
The multipolar foundations of BRICS would be enriched by the admission of several Arab nations, but the bloc has yet to decide on their applications, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told RT on Friday.
Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have all expressed interest in greater ties with the group of largest developing countries, composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
“They are all very strong countries,” Lavrov said in an interview on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). “And they are all leaders, to some extent, in the Arab and Islamic world. This would undoubtedly enrich BRICS.”
The Russian diplomat said the contribution of these new members would be “obvious” and mean that BRICS would get representation from one of the world’s major civilizations. “No doubt, this will benefit the multipolar foundations of the bloc that evolved naturally, objectively,” he added.
Because BRICS makes decisions by consensus, the bloc has established a procedure of coordinating member states’ position on expansion, Lavrov revealed. Expert groups are currently working on reports that will be presented at the August summit in South Africa, at which point the bloc will make its move accordingly.
Russia supports the expansion of BRICS, Lavrov said, but understands very well that applications for membership can carry certain complications. “It’s a very sensitive issue, of course, because the country’s reputation is at stake here, too. If a state applies to join and gets no answer, this won’t look good,” the diplomat told RT.
Bangladesh applies to join BRICS
Bangladesh has become the latest country to express interest in joining the BRICS economic group, with reports on Monday revealing that Dhaka has sent a formal request to become a member. The issue is expected to be discussed at the BRICS summit scheduled to take place in South Africa in August.
News of Bangladesh’s request was first shared by the Dhaka Tribune newspaper, citing a source familiar with discussions held between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Geneva last Wednesday. According to the outlet, Dhaka officially asked to join the bloc, which consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, during the meeting.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has since confirmed the move. He noted that Dhaka, which is currently recognized as a ‘Friend of BRICS’, has already sent a formal letter to the current chair of the group, South Africa.
Latin American country joins MIR, Russia’s Visa alternative
Venezuelan banks have begun to accept Mir cards, Russia’s alternative to Visa and Mastercard, the head of the country’s central bank, Calixto Jose Ortega Sanchez, revealed at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Thursday.
The Latin American country announced it was willing to join the Mir payment system last year and has since been in talks over the step. The Russian Embassy in Venezuela previously said that if Caracas connected to Mir, this would “create stable conditions for settlements in national currencies” between the two countries.
Russia’s Mir payment system has experienced a steady increase in demand for new cards since last year, according to the system’s operator. Around ten countries worldwide currently use the system, while roughly 15 others have expressed interest in adopting it.
The head of Myanmar’s central bank declared at SPIEF on Wednesday that his country would start accepting Mir cards by December. An agreement was also recently reached with Iran.
South American country pledges to abandon US dollar
Venezuela is planning to shift away from the greenback in cross-border transactions, President Nicolas Maduro said earlier this week, claiming that the measure would help the Bolivarian Republic to free its economy.
It’s the latest country to publicly share plans to reduce its reliance on the US dollar. Similar measures have recently been announced by Argentina, Brazil and Iraq. Meanwhile, the BRICS group of nations are considering the introduction of a new reserve currency to replace the dollar.
“This is the path of Venezuela and the path of a free economy where currencies are not used to punish countries and impose sanctions,”Maduro said on Tuesday in an interview with local media.
Venezuela is ranked among the world’s five most-sanctioned nations. The South American country has suffered one of the largest economic contractions in history. Last year, Washington allowed US energy major Chevron to resume limited oil production in the country, but the majority of sanctions remain in place and continue to weigh on the Venezuelan economy.
Longstanding sanctions policies pursued by the White House, along with rising inflation in the US, have forced multiple countries around the world to start looking for alternatives to the dollar.
Clock ticking on US financial hegemony – senior Russian MP
Mounting debt and a reliance on sanctions have jeopardized US credibility as an economic partner and may soon shatter its image as a global financial power, Anatoly Aksakov, the head of the Duma’s Financial Market Committee, told the Izvestia news outlet at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on Thursday.
According to the senior lawmaker, the US share in global trade turnover is rapidly dropping, a trend likely to continue in the coming years.
“We see that the US share in world trade has shrunk to about 70%, in part due to sanctions against Russia which undermined confidence in the US currency.
“Previously, 70% of international trade was serviced by the dollar, now it is 60%. Can you imagine, 10% in just a short period of time – this is significant. Naturally, this process will continue, because the US undermines partners’ trust with their actions. So, of course, not in one or two years, but in ten years, America as a great financial power will cease to exist,” Aksakov stated.
Carlo Domenico Cristofori
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