St. Petersburg Forum: Today Vladimir Putin Talks About Russian Economy

A flurry of summit meetings: 30 countries of the world want to establish relations with BRICS

Incontro tra Dilma Rousseff e Vladimir Putin

Friday, June 7, is the key day of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). The centerpiece of the plenary session will be the speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will subsequently speak freely with participants and answer questions from representatives of the political and business world. Delegations from more than 130 countries are taking part in the annual event in St. Petersburg, but, as Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov specified, the central theme of Putin’s speech will be the current situation and prospects for the development of the Russian national economy. “Traditionally,” Peskov said in a TV interview, “President Putin pays a lot of attention to the economy. Therefore, I am convinced that his speech will mainly focus on the economy of our country.”

Earlier, Putin held a series of high-level meetings, including talks with Dilma Rousseff, president of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB). “We met last year on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa summit, and I am glad that we can continue our dialog,” Putin said at the opening of the meeting. The Russian president praised the progress the bank has made under the leadership of Rousseff, Brazil’s former president from 2011 to 2016. “For the first time, the bank has shown a significant profit (…) and, in fact, is getting on its feet, operating in an increasingly organized and successful manner,” Putin noted.

Putin also received Milorad Dodik, leader of Republika Srpska, the Serb entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who after the summit announced his intention to organize a popular referendum to decide on the partition between Republika Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina. “There is a decision on secession, but the exact date has not yet been set,” Dodik said when asked when the referendum might be held. The Serbian leader added that he is convinced that there is already a “historical maturity and recognition that this needs to be done and that it will happen.” However, Dodik emphasized that “we absolutely do not want to create instability on the territory of our country. But we have put forward a proposal to secede from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we are now moving in that direction.”

In parallel with SPIEF, preparations are being finalized for the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting to be held in the Russian industrial city of Nizhny Novgorod on June 10-11. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that at the moment “BRICS is considering about 30 requests from around the world offering to establish various forms of cooperation with the group.” Lavrov said he intends to approve a new category of cooperation with the group’s partner countries, which currently includes 10 countries. “This category should be presented in detail both in terms of criteria and countries that can qualify for it,” the Russian foreign minister explained. Lavrov also emphasized that Russia, given its rotating chairmanship of BRICS, pays “great attention to whether the newcomers will get used to the already existing forms of work, to the group’s traditions.” In addition to the BRICS member countries’ heads of diplomacy, the ministerial meeting will be attended by some “guests of honor,” including Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan who, during his recent visit to China, announced Ankara’s intention to join BRICS as a full member. If Turkey’s request is granted, it will become the first NATO country to join the group, which currently includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, and, as of January 1, 2024, also Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Ethiopia.