№ 3, 2024. Vladimir Putin’s Address to the Federal Assembly: Promising Future of BRICS

March 1, 2024

On February 29, 2024, Vladimir Putin delivered his Address to the Federal Assembly. In the speech the Russian President has raised a number topical international issues: Russian-American relations, European security, Russia’s hypersonic missiles, etc. However, a special emphasis was given to BRICS, which economic development is growing significantly. Vladimir Putin noted that by 2028 BRICS share in global economy will be 37%, while G7 numbers will fall below 28%. He also added: “Look, the G7 countries’ share in global GDP in terms of PPP stood at 45.7% in 1992, while the BRICS countries (this association did not exist in 1992) accounted for only 16.5%. In 2022, though, the G7 accounted for 30.3%, while BRICS had 31.5%. By 2028, the percentage will shift even more in favour of BRICS, with 36.6%, and the expected figure for the G7 is 27.8%”. Vladimir Putin summarized this part of his speech saying that “it is objective reality, and it will remain so, with no matter what happens next, including even in Ukraine”[1].

Economy is the most promising area of cooperation in BRICS, which made possible both the establishment of the association and its further enlargements[2]. Russia — as one of the founding fathers of BRICS — has contributed to its attractiveness, and still continues to propose initiatives aimed at making BRICS advanced and efficient global institute.

Firstly. In October, 2023, Vladimir Putin called for settlements in the national currencies of the BRICS countries. He also stressed that “creation of a BRICS currency is theoretically possible but to get to that point, it is necessary to achieve parity in the development of the economies of the countries”. The Russian President pointed out that “this [creation a single currency] is a very distant prospect”[3].

In fact, Putin’s words are not groundless at all. According to Elvira Nabiullina, the Head of the Russian Central Bank, settlements between Russia and other BRICS countries in national currencies have more than tripled to 85% in the last two years[4]. Some BRICS members are intrigued by such Russian experience and are ready to learn from it. For example, recently Egypt has declared its intention to call BRICS member states to trade in their national currencies. According to Ragy El-Etreby, Egyptian BRICS Sherpa, dealing in national currencies would alleviate the rising costs of using foreign currencies as a result of the high global inflation[5].

Secondly, with the start of Russian Chairship in BRICS in 2024, the number of proposed initiatives has only risen. The Bank of Russia suggested that representatives of BRICS countries elaborate common standards in the area of green financing[6].

Additionally, Russia plans to propose forming an alternative banking structure to secure trade operations within BRICS. According to Anton Siluanov, Russian Finance Minister, “in order for the BRICS countries to develop normally, we need to think about creating our own financial systems functioning independently of politics and ensuring trade relations between our countries”[7].

Thus, economic development of BRICS is not out of the blue. Its figures and advanced level of cooperation reflect both hard work and a shared commitment of BRICS countries to mutual prosperity, growth and multilateralism.

However, BRICS is not only about economy. There are three main pillars which provide an effective functioning of the association — political and security cooperation, financial and economic cooperation, and cultural and people-to-people cooperation. In the interview to PIR Center Sergey Ryabkov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and BRICS Sherpa, pointed out the recent examples of achievements in BRICS — the launch of the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre in virtual format, the beginning of practical implementation of Agreement on the Cooperation of the BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation, the approval of the BRICS Initiative on Denial of Safe Haven to Corruption, and the adoption of the BRICS Digital Economy Partnership Framework[8].

Sergey Ryabkov also shed the light on the priorities of Russian Chairship in BRICS in 2024. The diplomat outlined that “during the Chairship, we [Russia] intend to pay close attention to building up foreign policy coordination in the BRICS format, primarily within the key international platforms, as well as to further strengthening cooperation with the states of the Global South. We will continue to cooperate on combating terrorism, money laundering, corruption and the criminal assets recovery. We will make additional efforts to jointly seek common responses to information security threats and challenges, and to improve the legal framework for cooperation in this area”[9].

Sergey Ryabkov also stressed that “there is much work to be done to comprehensively implement the BRICS Economic Partnership Strategy 2025 and the Action Plan for Innovative Cooperation for 2021-2024. An important aspect of our work will be to enhance the role of the BRICS countries in the international monetary and financial system, develop interbank cooperation, facilitate the transformation of the international settlement system and expand the use of national currencies of the BRICS countries in their trade with each other”[10].

On balance, nowadays BRICS is about 45% of world population and its voice cannot be ignored. BRICS is an example of a genuine multilateral diplomacy. As Sergey Lavrov stressed, “in this framework [BRICS], countries representing different civilizations, religions and macro-regions are effectively developing ties in the most diverse areas — from politics and security to the economy, finances, healthcare, sports and culture”[11].

Theres is no doubt that BRICS countries continue to strength, enhance global influence and shape international political and economic landscape. Vladimir Putin is absolutely right — this is objective reality, and it will remain so, with no matter what happens next.

[1] Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly // President of Russia: Official Website. February 29, 2024. URL:   http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/73585 (accessed: 29.02.2024).

[2] In 2011 South Africa joined to BRIC. Since 2024 Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, the UAE and Saudi Arabia became new BRICS members.

[3] BRICS needs single settlement mechanism — Putin // TASS. October 5, 2023. URL: https://tass.com/economy/1685567 (accessed: 29.02.2024).

[4] Russia Discussing Integration of Payment Infrastructure With BRICS // Global Times. January 31, 2024. URL: https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202401/1306423.shtml#:~:text=The%20share%20of%20the%20BRICS,to%2085%25%2C%20Nabiullina%20emphasized (accessed: 29.02.2024).

[5] Egypt will urge trade in national currencies within BRICS: Sisi’s representative to bloc // Ahram Online. February 13, 2024. URL: https://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/1234/517659/Egypt/Foreign-Affairs/Egypt-will-urge-trade-in-national-currencies-withi.aspx (accessed: 29.02.2024).

[6] Bank of Russia discusses sustainable development financing initiatives with BRICS countries // Central Bank of Russia: Official Website. February 28, 2023. URL: https://www.cbr.ru/eng/press/event/?id=18469 (accessed: 29.02.2024).

[7] Russia plans to offer BRICS to develop financial system independent of politics // TASS/ February 27. 2023. URL: https://tass.com/economy/1752465 (accessed: 29.02.2024).

[8] «Сегодня БРИКС воспринимается в качестве одного из столпов нового более справедливого миропорядка»: вышел новый номер научной записки Индекс Безопасности с интервью Сергея Рябкова о перспективах БРИКС и его расширении в преддверии российского председательства // ПИР-Центр. 26 декабря 2023. https://pircenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/SIRUS-4-47-Ryabkov.pdf (дата обращения: 29.02.2024).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at the Primakov Readings International Forum, Moscow, November 27, 2023 // The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation: Official Website. November 27, 2023. URL: https://mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1917821/ (accessed: 29.02.2024).

Key words: BRICS; Global Security


E16/MIN – 24/03/01