Russia and BRICS

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Seyyedeh Motahhareh Hosseini
Assistant Professor of Political Science & Expert on Central Asia and Caucasus Affairs

At present, the Russian Federation is facing serious issues, which from the viewpoint of Russians themselves, have turned the recent times into one of the most historic periods for Russia and even the entire world. Russians compare this period with the periods of the world wars and Napoleonic attacks, and in various notes, speeches, newspaper columns and intellectual talks among Russians, we see frequent references to historic periods of Russia, which have been similar to issues with which Russia has been grappling following the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine. On the one hand, Russians have taken a full-force stance against Western sanctions and like a charging bear, have braced for difficult conditions of sanctions, while on the other hand, they resort to those tools in their domestic and foreign policies, which are considered vital and historic for them. From the viewpoint of Russians, some measures taken by Russia’s foreign policy are among vital elements and priorities of the Russian life which cannot be easily discarded in order to get out of the conditions that have resulted from them. Active participation in the group of developing countries known as BRICS and making effort to set direction of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization toward more dominance of Russians over this organization are among these vital priorities for Moscow.

Russia’s approach to BRICS is the same imperialistic approach which existed under the former Soviet Union when Moscow made a serious effort to build a special and unified bloc. Today, Russia is also trying through such groups as BRICS to create a separate and unified bloc whose main characteristics would be unilateralism, swimming against the tide, and taking a different approach to the world. From the viewpoint of Russians (and perhaps other member states of BRICS), a new and different basis should be adopted for world orders and main economic and political currents of the world, because in their opinion, there is no need for the Western – European – American world order to dominate all.

In this way, Russia expects BRICS and other aligned structures, which Russian President Vladimir Putin and his sympathizer aim to create and strengthen, to come up with new plans within the global community which would meet and guarantee the interests of Russia and other member states, especially against the West. However, to what extent Russia’s assessment of BRICS is realistic? Isn’t what Russians expect from BRICS far from the reality? It should be noted that although Russia’s approach to BRICS is filled with Russian-type idealism and Russians certainly imagine BRICS in a special light, which is not similar to mentality of other countries, nonetheless BRICS has been and will be a serious union and an influential organization in history of the world’s politics and economy. Therefore, although Russians may treat this group on the basis of trial and error in many instances, it is not unexpected for them to start special activities and take advantage of this group at crucial junctures.  Therefore, measures taken by Moscow in the chessboard of world politics are always followed with special sensitivity until the time comes for final and historic blow.

The next question is whether a new plan and serious move by Moscow can be expected in view of Russia’s general positions on such issues as the crisis in Ukraine and existing sanctions? Does Russia have the ability and motivation for serious taking actions within framework of global community? The reality is that Russia is not able to make many of the moves it aspires to make, and a large number of Russian ideals do not conform to external realities and, therefore, grounds for their realization will be never provided. However, Russia still has the motivation and ability to take continuous and lasting actions at regional and global levels, and will take advantage of special opportunities to build a world conforming to the Russian order and taste in its own special and unique way. At present and during recent years, steps taken by such powers as Russia for the creation of institutions and currents that oppose the existing financial and political order of the world have inspired revisionist states with new hope in the possibility of building a different world, which would be more in line with their demands. Of course, under real global conditions, the possibility for most wishes of revisionist states coming true seems to be totally nonexistent.

Key Words: Russia, BRICS, Ukraine, Western Sanctions, Russian Ideals, External Realities, Western – European – American World Order, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Hosseini

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*Photo Credit: Sputnik News