BRICS leaders discuss Ukraine war, de-dollarization, expansion plans during summit

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BRICS leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met on Wednesday as part of an open panel where they discussed key issues, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict, de-dollarization and the bloc’s expansion.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazil’s leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Chinese President Xi Jinping along with Russia’s Vladmir Putin – who attended the panel virtually – echoed a common consensus to bring a peaceful and just end to the Ukraine war.

“A growing number of BRICS countries are engaged in direct contact with Moscow and Kyiv to join efforts that can effectively contribute for immediate cease fire and fair and everlasting peace,” Lula said.

China and South Africa, who emphasized the adherence to the United Nations security council to end the war peacefully, shared similar sentiments.

“Diplomacy dialogue and negotiations and adherence to principle of UN charter are necessary for peaceful and just resolution of conflicts,” Ramaphosa said, reiterating that global peace and stability are a “priority” for South Africa.

President of China Xi Jinping attends the plenary session during the 2023 BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on August 23, 2023 (AFP)
President of China Xi Jinping attends the plenary session during the 2023 BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on August 23, 2023 (AFP)

China maintained a similar stance, but Xi criticized the West for exacerbating the conflict by casting undue influence on the UN security council.

“BRICS countries should keep the direction of peaceful resolution and enhance coordination on major international and regional issues,” Xi said.

“International rules must be written and upheld jointly by all countries based on principles of UN charter rather than dictated by those with the strongest muscle or the loudest voice ganging up and packaging their own rules as international norms,” he added.

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Russia’s President Putin upheld the views of his BRICS counterparts on ending the war through peaceful dialogue.

But he criticized the West for “unleashing a war” in the region to expand their “hegemony and policy of ongoing colonialism and neo-colonialism.”

“Our actions in Ukraine are guided by only one thing, to put an end to the war that was unleashed by the West against people in Donbas,” Putin said. “We thank our colleagues within BRICS that take an active part in the attempts to put an end to this situation and to ensure just settlement by peaceful means.”

BRICS expansion

The summit leaders staunchly promoted the bloc’s intentions to expand and enhance economic development.

BRICS needs to “accelerate the expansion process to pull our strength and wisdom to make global governance more just and equitable,” said Xi.

India’s Modi also expressed a similar viewpoint, removing earlier doubts that India was hesitant to expand the bloc.

“India fully supports the expansion of BRICS membership, and we welcome moving forward on this based on consensus,” Modi said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg on August 23, 2023. (AFP)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg on August 23, 2023. (AFP)

An announcement regarding the bloc’s expansion is expected to take place soon, according to Ramaphosa, who said that a decision will be taken in “due course at the summit.”

De-dollarization

The bloc leaders emphasized conducting increased trade within the bloc using local currencies as part of a move towards de-dollarization – reducing the US dollar’s dominance in global trade and finance.

They promoted the achievements of the BRICS New Development Bank in financing various projects, positioning it as an integral part of the bloc’s economic development plan.

“The creation of a common vetted unit for our trade transactions and investment for BRICS countries will increase our payments options and reduce our vulnerabilities,” Lula said.

Delegates listen on during the plenary session as Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his remarks via video-link during the 2023 BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on August 23, 2023. (AFP)
Delegates listen on during the plenary session as Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his remarks via video-link during the 2023 BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on August 23, 2023. (AFP)

Russia, who is expected to host the BRICS summit next year, also backed the idea of trading in local currencies within the bloc.

“We are successfully implementing the strategy for BRICS economic partnership 2025, namely to strengthen the bilateral cooperation on areas such diversification of supply chains, de-dollarization, and transfer to local currencies in our mutual settlements,” Putin said.

The BRICS summit will continue for three days, concluding on August 24. Leaders from BRICS nations and other invited delegates are expected to make announcements on key issues concerning the bloc’s expansion and trade relations over the course of the next two days.

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