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Putin sees BRICS as global troubleshooter

Posted by seumasach on March 23, 2013


Indian Punchline

22nd March, 2013

The interview released today by Russian state news agency Itar-Tass with President Vladimir Putin regarding the forthcoming BRICS summit meeting at Durban (March 26-27) reaffirms the high priority Moscow attaches to the regional grouping. There are no surprises here. BRICS is a Russian initiative.

What stands out is the stunning suggestion Putin has made to reorient the BRICS. He said, “we invite our partners [Brazil, India, China and South Africa] to gradually transform BRICS from a dialogue forum that coordinates approaches to a limited number of issues into a full-scale strategic cooperation mechanism that will allow us to look for solutions to key issues of global politics together.” [Emphasis added.]
Putin acknowledges that such a profound transformation will take time. Aside across-the-board harmonization of foreign policies amongst the BRICS members, a fundamental reorientation of the foreign-policy doctrines may also be required.
How India responds to the grand idea remains to be seen. To be sure, a ‘leap of faith’ is required. India has been comfortable with the fact that the leitmotif of BRICS is economics. Putin’s proposal would fundamentally readjust the BRICS’ orientation.
The key word is “full-scale strategic mechanism,” which will seek solutions to “key issues of global politics”  instead of coordinating their stance selectively on a few issues as at present. Putin stressed that he does not visualize BRICS as a “geopolitical competitor” to the West.
What constitutes “key issues of global politics”? From the Russian (or Chinese) perspective, for example, United States’ missile defence would be at the top of the heap of key issues. The two countries have drawn much closer lately than ever in countering the US’ ABM system. India, on the other hand, has kept its thoughts to itself.
Interestingly, Putin made this proposal while the Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Moscow on an official visit, which is also his first visit abroad as head of state. Yet, it is also not as if Russia and China are in a virtual alliance.
Putin specifically took note of Xi’s visit and said the Russian-Chinese relations are today “the best in their centuries-long history,” characterized by a “high degree of mutual trust, respect for each other’s interests, support in vital issues” and is a “true partnership” which is “genuinely comprehensive.” He added: “The commonality of our approaches to fundamental issues of world order and key international problems has become an important stabilizing factor in world politics.” It is a sober assessment without rhetorical flourishes. Transcript of Putin’s interview is here.

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