BRICS: Focus on Energy, Group Currencies, Resolving Conflict in Ukraine

After expanding to five new members in January 2024, the group, now informally called BRICS+, represents 37.3% of the world's GDP

Wang Yi e Serghej Lavrov

A two-day meeting of BRICS foreign ministers has concluded in Russia with some “guests of honor,” including Turkey’s diplomatic chief Hakan Fidan. The talks focused on the most pressing issues of the global agenda, from energy security to the world’s alarming division into hostile blocs that are damaging supply chains and provoking trade wars. In addition, possible ways to end regional conflicts, from Ukraine to Palestine, were analyzed. The plan to develop relations within the group, which starting January 1, 2024, in addition to Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, was joined by Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Ethiopia, is to increase trade turnover with payment in national currencies, as well as to create BRICS’s own currency.

The goal of BRICS activities is to establish a new world order, fair and non-discriminatory, based on the principles of multipolarity and sustainable development. The transition to a new world order will take an entire historical era and will be difficult, especially given that Washington is actively trying to prevent this process, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. According to the Russian diplomat, the BRICS expansion demonstrates that new decision-making centers are being consolidated at the global level, which include the states of the South and East of the world, i.e. “the world’s majority states.”

“Russia, like the World Majority countries, advocates a fairer world order, which is based on the sovereign equality of states and takes into account the balance of power and interests,” Lavrov emphasized. “Together, we aim to advance a forward-looking, constructive international agenda. An important task in this context is to strengthen the role of interstate formats that advocate collective approaches to international development.”

The Russian minister also noted that the US, backed by its allies, uses “sanctions pressure and financial blackmail” to “influence the choice of development models,” but “has no chance of maintaining its elusive dominance.”

In this highly complex and tense international context, the role of the BRICS countries in addressing global challenges has been increasing year by year. “I am convinced that BRICS is driven forward by the winds of change, as its role in addressing global challenges will only increase. This is confirmed by the steady increase in the number of countries showing genuine interest in joining the work of our association,” said the head of Russian diplomacy. He recalled that more than 30 countries have expressed interest in cooperating with BRICS, and Turkey has decided to join the group as a full member.

The participants of the Ministerial Meeting acknowledged that BRICS is one of the organizations where the principles of fair cooperation are implemented in practice, not in words. The BRICS core values are “mutual respect, openness, pragmatism, solidarity, continuity, and consensus.” After expanding to five new countries in January 2024, the group, now informally called BRICS+, represents 37.3% of global GDP, significantly higher than the European Union’s 14.5%. In addition to increased economic weight, the expansion of BRICS+ brings with it greater influence of developing countries in international organizations, such as the UN, the World Trade Organization, and the Bretton Woods institutions. The BRICS foreign ministers have made it clear that the organization is preparing to take a quantum leap to present an economic, political, and financial front with huge geopolitical potential to redistribute power on a global scale, so far dominated by the G7 countries.

Energy was one of the central topics of the ministerial meeting. The BRICS countries intend to develop cooperation in the energy sector. It was emphasized that energy security represents one of the most important pillars of economic development, social stability, national security, and well-being of all countries.

The implementation of these rather ambitious plans does not allow BRICS to “rest on its laurels,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. “Further efforts are necessary to turn the BRICS group into a platform for cooperation among emerging markets and developing countries, marked by openness and inclusiveness,” Wang emphasized. In his opinion, “in the competition between promoting global multipolarity and maintaining global ‘unipolar hegemony,’ in the clash between economic globalization and anti-globalization, BRICS should follow the trends of history, stand on the side of equality and justice, making the right choice.”

Looking to the future, the expanded BRICS group “will have to take great responsibility” and “achieve great goals” to become an “open and inclusive” mechanism for cooperation among emerging markets; it is necessary to “strengthen our faith in multilateralism” and “determination for peace and security,” the Chinese minister added.

The ministerial meeting became the occasion for a number of important contacts and declarations that confirm the transition to a multipolar world. In particular, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The two leaders discussed bilateral economic cooperation and multilateral governance. They analyzed the prospects for a political solution to the conflict in Ukraine. Lula reiterated Brazil’s position on Ukraine, emphasizing that peace talks should involve both sides of the conflict, which is “in line with the document signed by Brazilian presidential adviser Celso Amorim and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.” The Brazilian president also spoke of the need for “broad reform of global governance.” It will be discussed at the G20 to be held in Rio de Janeiro in November, reflecting “new global geopolitical structures” and strengthening “the UN’s role as a consultative forum for conflict prevention.”

From Belgrade, Serbian Prime Minister Milos Vucevic sent greetings to the participants of the BRICS meeting. He said he believed in “the traditional relations of great friendship between Serbia and Russia,” which are based “on historical ties, on the common goal of preserving the rule of law, the spirit of freedom, independence, and sovereignty of all countries.”

“What we have experienced together in recent and distant history,” Vucevic said, “binds us together both in the present and in the future. That’s why I believe in our wonderful relationship.” The Serbian president said that “no one should perceive these relations as directed against or for anyone” and that Serbia “should look at its own political and economic interests that coincide with cooperation with Russia.” It will, he emphasized, “continue further on.”