Russia fails litmus test to coerce Brics while China gains traction

The Russian president’s attempt to coerce Brics to back the Kremlin in their conflict with Ukraine flopped this week during the 15th Brics Summit in Johannesburg.

On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin defended Russia’s Ukraine offensive in his summit opening speech but ate humble pie when the final declaration condemned all wars.

“We are concerned about ongoing conflicts in many parts of the world,” reads the Johannesburg 2 Declaration adopted on Thursday. “We stress our commitment to the peaceful resolution of differences and disputes through dialogue and inclusive consultations in a coordinated and cooperative manner.”

Another Putin-sponsored proposal for the dedollarisation of Brics member states’ economies also did not win the hearts of many attending the summit.

The matter was instead deferred, with the finance ministers given the task of undertaking further study on the feasibility of the concept.

While Putin emerged with a bloodied nose, his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, smiled from ear to ear as probably the biggest winner from the summit’s deliberations. Chinese allies – Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Ethiopia – were among the six countries added to the economic bloc’s expansion.

The decision to expand the bloc was unanimous, making China the big brother within the Brics community. This will benefit the country’s ongoing quest to dethrone the US as the biggest economy in the world. China now has a footing in more international economic blocs than its nemesis as its economy grows in leaps and bounds.

With additional member countries on board, China is expected to get its way within Brics on major decisions and strategic moves by the bloc. The addition of China-friendly countries is bound to send shivers down Washington’s spine.

South Africa also did not come out as losers as President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visits to the Middle East are beginning to make sense. Ramaphosa has formed alliances with Arab countries that are also Brics members.

For his successful chairing of the Brics Summit, he received high praise from other heads of state.

That Ramaphosa pulled it off to hold the summit seat successfully without an incident has been commended as an impressive feat. This is particularly due to the events leading up to the summit, chiefly the arrest warrant on Putin by the International Criminal Court.

After months of political headaches, Ramaphosa convinced Putin to participate in the summit through a video link from the Kremlin.

“I would like to thank our South African friends for the efforts they have made during our joint work,” Putin said in his closing remarks. “President Ramaphosa showed unique diplomatic mastery as we negotiated all the positions, including when it comes to Brics expansion.”

Ramaphosa had also marshalled African heads of state to the first peace effort since the Russia-Ukraine conflict started, when they visited both countries.

With Brics’ success, Ramaphosa’s geopolitical stature is bound to move to new heights. However, it may be overshadowed by his shortcomings domestically.

Follow @SundayWorldZA on Twitter and @sundayworldza on Instagram, or like our Facebook Page, Sunday World, by clicking here for the latest breaking news in South Africa. 

Latest News