The role of the BRICS and Russia in a multipolar world
Authors: Edgar Gandra and Charles Pennaforte *
Geopolitics and international relations have undergone several transformations throughout the 20th century. One of the most important of these is that of the two great world wars and the reorganization of the world after the war.
The re-ordering of the world-system in the post-war period involved the “Pax Americana “and the creation of a world order linked to the United States, parallel to the rise of the USSR to the status of military and ideological power, challenging with the United States the condition of hegemonic power, in a bipolarity that has vanished with the disintegration of the socialist ideological bloc. As the United States consolidated itself as a hegemony, it faced the end of its systemic cycle of accumulation and its resulting decline trajectory.
The first two decades of the twenty-first century mark the resurgence of other powers, with the reappearance of Russia and China: Russia recovers part of its sphere of influence in its environment, under the leadership of Vladimir Poutin; and China consolidating itself as a global economic power, both of which play important roles in the geopolitical council. “
These countries profited from the gaps engendered by another structural crisis of world capitalism, materialized by the financial crisis of 2008, the consequences of which influenced the relative decline in the capacity of the United States to impose its majority will on the world system, because it since the end of World War II.
Based on the decline of American influence over the past decades, the emergence of major players at the start of the 21st century, and the questioning of their one-sided postures, the emergence of the BRICS represented a multipolar global perspective. and multilateral framework to tackle global problems.
Despite the disbelief of the central core of capitalism (EUA – Europe), the BRICS acquired a geopolitical projection of great importance at the start of the 21st century. The countries that participate in this electricity block own 26% of the territory, 42% of the population and 14% of world GDP, as well as more than 50% of the increase in world GDP between 2005 and 2010.
For many Western analysts, the BRICS had no possibility of organizing a common agenda that would involve large-scale articulation on the international stage. Such a prediction did not come true.
China and Russia, the two most powerful BRICS countries today, face competition from the United States for their areas of influence. Washington’s aggressive rhetoric and economic measures against Beijing have demonstrated the Donald Trump administration’s great concern over the country’s economic and geopolitical development in recent years. Despite declining economic growth, Beijing has increased its economic influence in various parts of the world, either through the New Silk Road project or through its operations on the African continent, for example. In addition to its companies competing on a par with Western companies (Huawei, for example), China has taken advantage of the geopolitical and economic gaps created by the United States in recent years to increase its influence.
On the other hand, Moscow has suffered the effects of a series of economic measures aimed at weakening its national project led by Vladimir Putin. It is more accentuated since 2014, when Russia sent Crimea back to its borders, faced with the possibility of a pro-Western government (NATO) in Ukraine and at the gates of its territory with clear objectives of creation of “zones”. fragile ”along its borders. . Washington, for example, sees Moscow in recent years as a growing “threat” to US strategic interests. It should be remembered that Russia has never taken an offensive stance against any country except when its geopolitical security may be affected as in the case of NATO’s totally unnecessary approach.
Russia has shown no “expansionist” or “imperialist” perspective. On the contrary, Russia has defended the basic principles of diplomacy in international forums, against any form of unilateral action.
Western media report a reversal of intent by placing Russia as a belligerent country with expansionist aspirations. Historical facts show exactly the opposite. The Obama, Trump and now Joe Biden administrations aimed to completely prevent the consolidation of the Russian role of global protagonists in building an environment without hegemony in the international system (geopolitical primacy).
China and Russia being the main players in the BRICS, the weakening both geopolitically and strategically (the actions of Washington and its partners go in this direction) would represent the very decline of the bloc and its objectives of building a new global governance in a multipolar and multilateral world.
The new development bank
The consolidation of the BRICS since its foundation has taken shape, its economic initiatives such as the New Development Bank (NBD), which indicate an ever growing intra-bloc and extra-bloc consultation. The so-called BRICS Bank can further accelerate the institutionalization of the group, which until then functioned more as a discussion forum than a formalized institution.
The creation of the NDB was seen by some analysts as a timely reflection on changes in global power, while others emphasized that the bank is another illustrative element of China’s global ambitions in terms of projecting global power. power. The creation of a possible competitor by offering financial resources on a more equitable basis than those offered by the IMF and / or the World Bank would change the traditional monetary power center in place since the end of the Second World War. As a result, the geopolitical center of power would be altered, accentuating the decline of the traditional core of capitalism. The consolidation of the NBD as a real alternative would be an important gain for the Sino-Russian geopolitical architecture of the creation of another geo-economic pole.
In a context where the world economy is undergoing immense upheavals because of the Covid-19, causing a large number of infections and deaths and forcing the most diverse regions of the world to drastically isolate their populations, global international cooperation is taking new importance, as the most affected countries, like Brazil, need financial assistance to face the crisis, the NBD reappeared with a leading role in this context of pandemic, which offered the prospects most advantageous financial support to deal with the crisis, among the development banks to which Brazil has had recourse. In addition to the foreign ministers of BRICS countries, members of the bank held virtual meetings to develop financial solutions in the fight against Covid-19.
As a first step, the NBD provided, in April 2020, a line of credit of US $ 1 billion for each country in the bloc. Another disbursement of US $ 10 billion is expected to be split between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The BRICS are moving between expectations of reaching half of global GDP by 2030, as assumed by the most optimistic outlook before the pandemic, and the estimated 5% drop in GDP of countries in the bloc in 2020, as the analysis points out. Government center of Russia. Considering the fact that statistics from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund estimate around 5% of the decline in global GDP for 2020, it can be assumed that the BRICS countries have not suffered a big shock as a whole, considering of the global scenario. China and India, in this sense, have good economic recovery expectations, offsetting the worse performances of Brazil, Russia and South Africa.
The Covid-19 pandemic is another component of this geopolitical scenario in which the BRICS will have to demonstrate their ability to offer alternatives to the collapse of the world order, with a review of globalization, multilateralism and the international trade regime.
Today, the BRICS are trying to establish themselves as an alternative to the reorganization of the world system. In this context of unforeseen circumstances, the BRICS must face the demands of its assertion as an international institution and block of power, as well as be subjected to the systemic transformations engendered by the United States, which is struggling to remain its hegemony.
In a scenario of uncertainties, the BRICS group wants to be an actor capable of proposing alternatives in a collapsing order, faced with the rearrangements of power in global geopolitics. The countries that make up the group, called emerging countries, will have to (re) emerge in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and its correlated crises, another disruptive element of this geopolitical framework. The economic recovery capacity of the BRICS countries compared to the rest of the world may foreshadow the future of the bloc.
*Charles Pennaforte , Professor at the Federal University of Pelotas (UFPEL), Brazil
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