Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 20.2020
2020.05.11 — 2020.05.17
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Coronavirus Pandemic Worries BRICS – OpEd (Пандемия коронавируса беспокоит БРИКС) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, covid-19

On April 28, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held an extraordinary meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) via videoconference as part of important events planned this year after Russia took over the chair-ship from Brazil.

The BRICS Foreign Affairs Ministers who took part in the meeting included Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar represented India; Ernesto Araújo Foreign Affairs Minister of Brazil; Wang Yi, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China and Ms. Grace Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa.

The ministers reviewed the impact of the current global crisis provoked by the outbreak of COVID-19 on the system of international relations and agreed that there is no alternative to using both bilateral and multilateral forms of cooperation, unite behind efforts without any hidden agenda, in finding a collective response to the challenges and threats posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting exchanged in-depth views on possible joint measures on how to contain COVID-19 and deal with the financial, trade, economic and social consequences of the pandemic. They discussed important issues related to developing a five-way cooperation, including the calendar of events for Russia's BRICS Chairmanship in 2020.

"We believe that it should become a very good reinforcement for our countries' economies when they're coming out of the crisis stage and resume economic operations," Lavrov noted after the meeting.

The international community should unite to ensure the most positive outcome of efforts in tackling the crisis, but acknowledged that such efforts are being undermined by sanctions imposed on some countries, and suggested that the sanctions should be lifted or removed.

In the opening speech, Lavrov emphasized the priority in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, protect people's lives and health as well as the global economy. "The need to uphold multilateral principles and rely on international law in formulating solutions to current cross-border threats is an urgent challenge. We are convinced that it is very important to strengthen the solidarity of BRICS countries," he said.

The BRICS heads of state adopted a decision a couple of years ago to expand cooperation in the fight against infections and the joint production and use of vaccines, according to Lavrov, and suggested "BRICS has to accelerate the implementation of this initiative."

Cooperation on countering infectious diseases has long been a priority for BRICS. For instance, the final declaration of the 2015 BRICS summit in Ufa, Russia, contains instructions by the leaders to jointly work on managing the risk of disease outbreaks, including the current new coronavirus.

"We are concerned about growing and diversifying global threats posed by communicable and non-communicable diseases. They have a negative impact on economic and social development, especially in developing and in the least developed countries," the 2015 BRICS declaration adopted in Ufa, Russia. It was the Seventh BRICS Summit, held under the theme "BRICS Partnership – a Powerful Factor of Global Development" under the chair-ship of Russia.

That declaration further stated: "In this context, we commend the efforts made by the BRICS countries to contribute to enhanced international cooperation to support the efforts of countries to achieve their health goals, including the implementation of universal and equitable access to health services, and ensure affordable, good-quality service delivery while taking into account different national circumstances, policies, priorities and capabilities."

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi echoed Sergey Lavrov's call for unity and solidarity. In an official statement released by the ministry, Wang said that the BRICS should "stand firm by multilateralism, by the UN-centered international system" and "champion the approach of consultation and cooperation."

"Through joint efforts, we will safeguard the legitimate rights and interests and space for development not just for ourselves but also for all other emerging market and developing countries," Wang Yi said.

With its rapid spread in many parts of the world, COVID-19 has put lives and health of people around the world under grave threat, seriously disrupted the global economy, and posed severe challenges to BRICS, the minister said, while acknowledging further that "as representatives of major emerging countries with global influence, BRICS countries must act in the interest of the well-being of humankind, and stand by justice and equity."

Wang Yi, however, proposed the following:

First, uphold multilateralism and improve global governance. The sudden onslaught of COVID-19 reminds again that BRICS interests are, closely entwined and the future. A challenge that respects no border and makes no distinction of ethnicity has only made global governance more important, not less, building a community with a shared future for mankind.

China's strategic assessment is that COVID-19 will not change the theme of the times which remains peace and development; it will not cut short the historical trend toward multi-polarity and globalization, and still less will it deter humankind from its firm pursuit of civilization and progress.

In a time of crisis, BRICS must stand firm by multilateralism, by the UN-centered international system, and by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. BRICS needs to sustain coordination in the UN, the G20 and other multilateral frameworks to keep up secure and smooth functioning of global industrial and supply chains, and defend the multilateral trading regime with the WTO as the cornerstone.

BRICS should continue to work for making development the centerpiece of the global macro policy agenda, and expedite the delivery of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Second, BRICS should come together in the spirit of partnership to combat COVID-19. Under the personal leadership and direction of President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government and people have fought a people's war against COVID-19. China has acted according to the principle of shoring up confidence, strengthening unity, ensuring science-based control and taking targeted measures.

As the virus hits more countries around the world, China is doing everything it can to help those in need. In spite of substantial demand at home and growing pressures to meet foreign orders, China has provided a large amount of medical supplies to fellow BRICS countries, and facilitated the purchase of such supplies through commercial channels.

Going forward, China is ready to step up the sharing of information and experience with BRICS countries and conduct joint research and development of drugs and vaccines, respecting each other's sovereignty and national conditions. Third, BRICS should uphold unity and coordination to forge a powerful synergy. President Xi Jinping stated that the virus is a common enemy of humanity and can be defeated. Living in a global village, no one could stay safe when others' houses catch fire.

Likewise, in fighting COVID-19, victory can only be secured when the virus is brought under control in all countries. China has been a strong force behind international anti-epidemic cooperation because its own experience has made it fully empathetic with other peoples suffering from similar difficulties.

As countries battle the disease in light of their own situations, China called for mutual understanding and respect for these efforts, and sharing and learning from each other's experiences. The global community should never be distracted in its collaborative response by finger-pointing or the blame game, allow new tensions and divisions to be created as a result of politicization or stigmatization.

In view of the weaknesses and inadequacies exposed during this crisis, BRICS needs to enhance global public health governance, make it a higher priority on the international agenda, and work together to build a community of health for all.

Fourth, China will work with all BRICS members to support Russia's Chairmanship. China also supports Russia's initiative to formulate a Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2025. On his part, Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar noted that BRICS, which brings together almost 42 percent of global population, with impressive growth, investment and trade share, has an important role to play in shaping the global economic and political architecture.

He highlighted the initiatives and various decisive steps taken early by India. For example, India is providing pharma assistance to nearly 85 countries, including many countries in Africa, on a grant basis, to support their response to the pandemic. This has been widely welcomed.

He further emphasized that the pandemic is not only posing a great risk to the health and well-being of humanity but is also severely impacting global economy and output by disruption of global trade and supply chains. Economic activity across sectors has been negatively impacted leading to loss of jobs and livelihoods.

He emphasized the need to provide support to businesses, especially small and medium scale enterprises, and the efficacy of traditional medicine systems to strengthen immunity be recognized and that BRICS should support these efforts.

Jaishankar emphasized the current challenge that underlines the need for reform of multilateral systems and that a reformed multilateralism was the way forward. He referred to the centrality of development and growth in the global agenda. India reaffirmed its support for Russian BRICS Chair-ship in 2020 and under the theme "BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Shared Security and Innovative Growth."

The BRICS member countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) collectively represent about 26% of the world's geographical area and are home to 3.6 billion people, about 42% of the world's population and with a combined nominal GDP of $16.6 trillion.
BRICS and its future: The challenges of multilateralism (БРИКС и его будущее: проблемы многосторонности) / India, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges

At the end of April 2020, the BRICS foreign ministers met via video conference in a meeting led by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in Russia's capacity as the current chair. Quite unsurprisingly, much of the discussion revolved around COVID-19 and the response of BRICS members to it.

At a time when international organisations — from United Nations to G7 to the EU to G20 — have come under fire for failing to mount a collective response to the pandemic, the BRICS foreign ministers meeting once again stressed the importance of a 'multilateral approach.' It is no surprise that this approach has been espoused, given that collective action has been the means for BRICS to achieve national interests and increase their say in institutions of global governance.

At the same time, BRICS does not have the 'strategic vision' to deal with 'global matters' on its own. For this, it relies on other international organisations, like throwing its support behind the G20 when the latter came together to deal with the 2008 financial crisis. Since then, the global situation has undergone significant shifts.

The post-2008 crisis world has been characterised by a sustained backlash against lopsided benefits accrued via globalisation, rise of populism and an increased antipathy towards multilateral dealings by the US — the leading power in several international institutions.

The rise of China and its resultant impact on the world order has raised questions about the impact of a rising power on multilateral processes. The post-2008 crisis world has been characterised by a sustained backlash against lopsided benefits accrued via globalisation, rise of populism and an increased antipathy towards multilateral dealings by the US — the leading power in several international institutions. This has further come under the scanner amid the pandemic as the US leadership — which had been on display during the 2008 crisis and the 2014 Ebola crisis — has been conspicuously missing.

It must be noted that multilateral frameworks were under stress even before the pandemic hit. What the COVID-19 is expected to do is to exacerbate the already prevailing trends when it comes to multilateralism, especially the ones in which the US is a leading member. Having long been used by strong states to further their influence, the post World War II multilateralism had been largely 'American-centric.' It is the rise of other powers that are now questioning this arrangement in order to cement their position and derive resultant benefits without alienating the major powers.

But what do these developments mean for multilateral organisations that are not driven by a US membership — how does the post-COVID-19 world order impact their functioning and agenda, seen through the case of BRICS.

What the COVID-19 is expected to do is to exacerbate the already prevailing trends when it comes to multilateralism, especially the ones in which the US is a leading member.

Here, the key will be to focus on two aspects of multilateralism — the impact of any future decline of global international institutions on prospects of BRICS cooperation as well as the internal dynamics of BRICS members and what it means for its existence as a multilateral institution in the short to medium term.

Why multilateralism matters for BRICS

For some time now, 'weaker states' have sought to set up multilateral institutions 'suited to their own specific goals and identities,' removed from the global hegemonic order. Unlike a hegemonic power, emerging powers find it difficult to strike out on their own and hence rely on multilateral institutions to achieve their goals. In a similar vein, for the past decade, BRICS countries have sought to improve coordination of issues of mutual interest. This continued BRICS cooperation has been based on specific calculations made by the member-states in terms of their defined national interests and achievement of foreign policy goals. The main causes include reform of Bretton Woods institutions, enhance regional power of individual member states, help in achievement of foreign policy goals of individual member states as well as increase cooperation with the rising power to 'bind' it among formal institutional structures.

This has led to annual summit meetings of the heads of state, establishment of the New Development Bank, setting up of the Contingency Reserve Arrangement — as some of the key achievements — with the NDB receiving 'AA+ long-term issuer credit ratings from S&P and Fitch and AAA foreign currency long-term issuer rating from Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR).' Also, the countries have made a collective demand for reform of global financial institutions and even coordinated positions at the G20 summit. In fact, 'strengthening and reforming the multilateral system' remains a key principle of cooperation among BRICS, as is evident from the 2019 Brasilia summit declaration. This highlights not just overlapping concerns among BRICS countries, but also the extent to which cooperation is based on activities of other multilateral institutions. Given that BRICS countries on their own are not in a position to mount global efforts to deal with large-scale crisis, a paralysis at the level of other multilateral institutions negatively affects agenda formation in BRICS. This takes place through an undermining of the strategic calculation that had led member states to cooperate within the BRICS framework to achieve the benefits accrued through a collective approach in international organisations.

Given that BRICS countries on their own are not in a position to mount global efforts to deal with large-scale crisis, a paralysis at the level of other multilateral institutions negatively affects agenda formation in BRICS.

The ongoing churn in the world order, further complicated by the pandemic sweeping through the world, has however raised concerns about future policy directions of BRICS member states and its eventual impact on the organisation as a whole. If the US-China rivalry intensifies, the already complex dynamics between India and China, India's balancing act with the US, the growing Russia-China linkages, Russia-US tensions — raise the prospects of an 'internal split.'

Even if it does not come to that, gaining consensus on an expanded agenda for BRICS will only become tougher in the short term due to the combination of international and national factors. This factor will also have to contend with the impact of the pandemic on the BRICS economies, with expectations of decline estimated to be around 5 percent or more, and the pace of recovery. The IMF estimates the following impact on real GDP of BRICS countries:

Real GDP, annual percentage change:

Here, at present, the decision to get the New Development Bank to 'create a dedicated lending tool to finance economic recovery projects in the BRICS countries' to the tune of $15 billion is a welcome step though far from adequate given the magnitude of economic distress. It is for precisely this reason — its limited capacity — that the BRICS has called for a multilateral approach to involve other major economies in dealing with the crisis.

The decision to get the New Development Bank to 'create a dedicated lending tool to finance economic recovery projects in the BRICS countries' to the tune of $15 billion is a welcome step though far from adequate given the magnitude of economic distress.

Already, the optimistic projections for the original BRIC economies have not been borne out in totality, with economic growth rates varying across the board. All of these challenges mean BRICS has not become the centerpiece of an alternative world order and has not had 'a significant impact on global developments or role in evolution of world system,' hindered by the diverging 'interests and horizons of its member countries.'

An uncertain future?

In the past five years, BRICS has managed to begin a process of institutionalisation as well as increased intra-BRICS cooperation in areas like health, science and technology, environment, finance, trade, agriculture, etc. (at the ministerial, sectorial and senior official level). This has also meant that despite the differing foreign policy positions in several areas, BRICS had remained an important arena for 'discussing the prospects of geopolitical evolution.' Also, despite its shortcomings, in a time of an evolving world order, a continued format for discussion among emerging powers has been 'worth maintaining.'

These gains, however, will be difficult to sustain if the member states cannot provide the levels of domestic economic growth that 'provides the basis for their international positions.' Already, questions are being raised about 'limitations to further integration' following the establishment of the NDB. Even geopolitically, it has not figured as 'an independent variable in analysis of international relations' due to the combination of factors discussed above.

The role of other emerging powers, their foreign policy choices in an evolving global order and response to the US-China equation will affect multilateral behaviour, including that of BRICS.

Till now, despite the economic strength China wields, it has not sought to assume a dominant position within the organisation, clearly understanding the limitations posed on such a posture by the member states. But a heightened rivalry with the US and the opportunity the pandemic offers to push for changes in the world order has the potential to upset this balance, leading to changes in how the two countries position themselves in multilateral institutions and affect rule-making within these bodies. The role of other emerging powers, their foreign policy choices in an evolving global order and response to the US-China equation will also affect multilateral behaviour, including that of BRICS.

Whether it can manage the internal contradictions among its members while also simultaneously expanding its agenda to become a more consequential voice at the international level, will determine its success in the coming years even as the collective response of BRICS to the pandemic remains to be seen. In other words, it will be nature of world order that eventually emerges that will determine the future of BRICS and not the other way round. This makes the ongoing churn in the global order especially relevant for BRICS and its future as a multilateral organisation.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Beware of scammers, the New Development Bank cautions (Остерегайтесь мошенников, предостерегает Новый банк развития) / South Africa, May, 2020
Keywords: ndb
South Africa

The New Development Bank (NDB) has issued a statement warning against scammers who swindle the public out of their hard-earned cash by posing as bank employees.

According to the NDB, formerly known as the BRICS Bank, the fraudsters invite individuals and companies to register for training at the NDB's Sandton offices before releasing assured funds in foreign currencies.

"The recipient of the e-mail or message is then asked to pay an administration or other upfront fee to a different local personal account in order to qualify," the NDB said.

"The offer is often for a limited period to try and pressure people into responding," the NDB added.

In other instances, the scammers send an e-mail or other communication that appears to come from the bank, a ministry in government or any other potentially trustworthy source requesting personal information such as identity documents, driver's licences, passports, addresses, contact details and registration or activation fees.

The organisation explained the bank, established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), only finances infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries.

NDB is not a commercial bank and does not open accounts for individuals, provide them with loans or any form of financing and will never ask for payments or any other favours from potential recipients of funding.

The organisation has since called on people and companies to be cautious about responding to unsolicited messages and be suspicious of e-mails or messages that contain spelling or grammatical errors or other inconsistencies such as Gmail addresses, rather than a company domain e-mail.

"The New Development Bank does not send unsolicited e-mails or any other communication asking the public to open a personal bank account, transfer money, or provide personal information," NDB Africa Regional Centre Director General, Monale Ratsoma said.

"Be wary of requests for upfront payments or payment for goods or services you have not or do not remember ordering." –

NDB fully disbursed Emergency Assistance Program loan to India to fight COVID-19 outbreak (НБР предоставил Индии ссуду на чрезвычайную помощь для борьбы со вспышкой COVID-19) / China, May, 2020
Keywords: ndb, covid-19, economic_challenges
Source: link

On May 11, 2020, the New Development Bank (NDB) fully disbursed USD 1 billion Emergency Assistance Program Loan to India. The Program was approved by the NDB Board of Directors on April 30, 2020, and it is aimed at supporting the Government of India in its efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and reduce human, social and economic losses caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

"The NDB is fully committed to supporting its member countries in the time of calamity. Emergency Assistance Program Loan to India was approved in quick response to the urgent request and immediate financing needs of the Government of India in fighting COVID-19," said Mr. Xian Zhu, Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of the Bank.

The Program's scope of financing includes Healthcare Sector Emergency Response and Strengthening Social Safety Net for expenditures already incurred since January 1, 2020 so far, and the expected public expenditures for onward transmission containment and social safety net associated with COVID-19 up to the March of 2021.

The Program envisages (i) preventing, detecting, and responding to the threat posed by COVID-19; (ii) funding critical healthcare expenditure that will enhance healthcare capacity in India and strengthen national health systems preparedness; and (iii) providing immediate economic assistance to the vulnerable and affected groups, thus facilitating economic and social recovery.

In its Statement on Response to COVID-19 Outbreak, the NDB Board of Governors welcomed the establishment of an Emergency Assistance Facility to meet the emergency needs of the member countries of the Bank. According to the Statement, emergency loans to the NDB member countries could be used to finance direct expenses related to the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak and provide support to governmental measures contributing to economic recovery.

Background Information

The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

During the Fifth Annual Meeting of the NDB Board of Governors held virtually on April 20, 2020, the Governors of the Bank approved Statement on Response to COVID-19 Outbreak. In the Statement, the Board of Governors stressed that BRICS countries would unite to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Russia in the post-coronavirus world: new ideas for foreign policy (Россия в посткоронавирусном мире: новые идеи для внешней политики) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: expert_opinion

There is a danger that by focusing entirely on the pandemic Russia and the international community might get distracted from addressing fundamental problems―devising and implementing a new, future-oriented ideological base and agenda for Russia's foreign policy.
The COVID-19 pandemic is exerting complex impact on global development. The aggravation of negative processes (the growing rivalry of great powers and the struggle for leadership) is accompanied by the emergence of potentially positive ones (the increasing demand for joint response to global challenges) which in the long run will affect the international environment. However, the essence of modern world politics remains unchanged: it is the struggle for positions in building a new order in place of the rapidly collapsing present one and the approaching finale of not only the "unipolar moment," but also of the West's five-hundred-year domination based on military superiority achieved in the 16th-17th centuries. There is a danger that by focusing entirely on the pandemic Russia and the international community might get distracted from addressing fundamental problems―devising and implementing a new, future-oriented ideological base and agenda for Russia's foreign policy.

For several years, the world has been drifting towards a pre-war state as the danger of unintended global war due to the escalation of multiplying crises grew. There are several reasons for that: the fastest ever redistribution of power in the world; degradation of elites in many countries and their despair over the inability to cope with snowballing problems, which has been clearly exposed by the global coronavirus attack; the emergence of a new generation of destabilizing weapons and the expansion of military rivalry into new spheres (outer space, cyberspace, artificial intelligence); the emasculation of previous arms limitation regimes; escalating U.S. rivalry with China and Russia; the blurring of the line between war and peace; and dwindling resistance of societies to the threat of war―a kind of "strategic parasitism," a habit of peace, utterly unjustified in view of the factors listed above.

The pandemic is dangerous, but by historical standards probably not catastrophic, even though it is perceived as such because it has triggered an avalanche of problems and imbalances―economic, financial, and those related to growing inequality, pollution, climate change, migration, intra-European and intra-Atlantic problems―which kept mounting but were never addressed. Many elites have seized on the pandemic as the equivalent of a relatively safe "little war" that will write everything off. It may help release the steam, but it is equally likely that it may precipitate a deep global economic crisis, similar to that of 1929 which was one of the causes of World War II, and exacerbate numerous international problems and contradictions. The U.S. has stepped up its confrontational policy towards China and Russia in a desperate attempt to regain global leadership, thus increasing the threat of war between the great powers.

At the same time, the current upheavals cannot but make mankind revise many habitual models of relations and reassess existing values. Issues pertaining to environmental pollution, climate change, natural and technological disasters and pandemics will gain greater importance.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also become a powerful catalyst for the growing trend towards renationalization of the world economy and politics. It has shown that anti-epidemic measures are largely being taken at the national level. In fact, it has proven that only sovereign states are able to provide people with public benefits. This generates much stronger demand for sovereignty, rejection of external dominance, and freedom in choosing one's political and cultural path, development models, and foreign policy orientation.

Finally, the pandemic has highlighted the need for a new philosophy of development that would center on the preservation and development of man and protection of nature, not on unbridled consumption.

All these trends require that Russia fundamentally upgrade the ideological framework of its foreign policy and offer its own society and the world attractive and future-oriented ideas.[1]

Russia's Foreign Policy: the Need for New Ideas

This need was fairly obvious even before the pandemic. Russia's foreign policy of the last fifteen years has been quite successful. The restoration of effective deterrence capability, the creation of highly efficient conventional armed forces and state-of-the-art strategic systems, brilliant diplomacy, and competitors' mistakes have let the country return into the top league of world politics. At the same time there are indications showing that the ideological content of Russia's foreign policy is lagging behind global development trends and the needs of Russian society, which may cause a loss of some of the regained international positions and may reduce public support for a strong foreign and defense policy.

Russia's foreign policy rhetoric lacks bright, forward-looking ideas that would be consistent with main global development trends and be able to lead. For example, the idea of multipolarity, which still underlies Russian foreign policy rhetoric but actually represents the agenda of the 1990s and 2000s, is no longer attractive to most countries. The "unipolar moment" is over, and the main question now is not whether or not a multipolar world order will ever become a reality, but what rules and norms will lie at its foundation.

Naturally, Russia's foreign policy can boast some promising ideas such as the Greater Eurasian Partnership. However, at the global level, Russia's unique contribution to world affairs and its special mission have remained unidentified or inconsistent with the general trends and aspirations of most countries. Russia has often been even wary of talking about its mission.

There is an ideological vacuum in the world, and a fierce struggle is unfolding to fill it. The U.S., while still waving the flag of freedom and democracy and building up its economic and military power, is trying hard to retain dominance while at the same time "giving up" the liberal approach and displaying Darwinian egoism. China has proposed a Community of Common Destiny, which represents its mission as the promotion of harmony and development. But it is not yet quite clear what exactly this means in practice.

Big ideas, which simultaneously reflect internal identity, make the national existence meaningful and illuminate distinctive contribution that a country could offer for the rest of the world, constitute the defining feature of a great power. If such ideas fade away or are abandoned, great powers become weak and even fall apart. Russia has already gone through that.

We do not suggest adopting a state ideology in the classical sense, an ideology that would claim to elaborate "the only correct" views on historical development and offer a true and universal system of values, or that would impose its views and values on others. The country and the world had enough of that in the 20th century. The pragmatism of Russia's foreign policy, that is, its ability to develop relations with all countries regardless of their internal regimes, must be preserved as it gives great advantages and reduces costs.

But it is necessary to understand what Russia is in the world of today and tomorrow, what its positive contribution to international affairs is in comparison with the role of other powers, and why Russian society and most countries of the world should be interested in preserving a strong Russia and making it even stronger. What role will it play in a world where, on the one hand, two superpowers (the U.S. and China which is turning into a superpower) come to the fore, but, on the other hand, more and more countries do not want to become dependent on them? Can Russia contribute to the fight against epidemics and environmental degradation and how? The answers to these questions will largely determine Russia's international position, its influence, its role in shaping a new world order, and even its internal political stability.

A New Ideological Triad for Russia and the World

The ideas that were proposed by one of the authors of this article in a previous publication (see New Ideas for Itself and the World) have not only lost relevance now, in the conditions of the coronavirus pandemic, but, on the contrary, have become more pertinent and important. In our opinion, Russia's foreign policy should be based on the following ideological triad:

  • Preserving international peace;
  • Promoting the freedom of countries to choose development models; defending sovereignty and diversity; countering any ideological, political or value hegemony; and positioning Russia as a guarantor of a "New Non-Alignment;"
  • Jointly protecting the environment and combating new global challenges, including pandemics; promoting a new development philosophy based on the preservation of the global human habitat, and, above all, of man himself, focusing on his moral and physical health and well-being, rather than constantly growing consumption.
It is desirable that each of these ideas become the basis of the relevant policy, a set of foreign policy initiatives.

Russia's mission in this case would be saving the planet from nuclear catastrophe and environmental disaster, protecting sovereignty and freedom of choice for all countries. This is not an urge for Russia to make everyone happy at its own expense, as it was in Soviet times, but a policy that meets the interests of Russian society. Since such a mission cannot be carried out unilaterally, it is necessary to seek maximum cooperation of all countries in order to consolidate peace and protect the environment. One of the slogans for the proposed policy could sound like "Let's save the planet together."

These ideas and priorities are, first, fully consistent with global trends. Peace, freedom of choice and sovereignty, the preservation of nature and humans is what is needed everywhere today and will be even more needed tomorrow.

Second, these ideas are akin to domestic identity, to what has always been valued in Russia. Ensuring sovereignty and independence is one of Russia's highest priorities; preserving peace has historically been the main pursuit of the country that has survived several devastating incursions and has been existing in a challenging geopolitical environment. The emphasis on the spiritual and cultural development of man and society, not just on material goods and consumption, is also in line with Russia's spiritual tradition.

Third, these ideas largely reflect what Russia is de facto already doing but has not yet conceptualized or is not yet been promoting as its own contribution to global development. By pursuing a firm foreign policy and creating new weapon systems that make it impossible for the U.S. and NATO to restore military superiority in the foreseeable future, Russia has reduced the threat of aggression against itself, a large-scale war, and a new conventional and nuclear arms race. This makes such a race too costly, if not completely meaningless, for the other side in the years to come. We have got a window of opportunity for a new policy and domestic development. Having put an end to the West's military superiority, on which its political, economic, and cultural dominance has rested for the last five centuries, having stopped a series of destabilizing color revolutions and regime change endeavors in Syria, by playing an active role in Asia and the Middle East and maintaining a balanced partnership with all centers of power in these regions, Russia is strengthening the basis for preserving and strengthening the sovereignty of dozens of states. Russian policy guarantees them the freedom to choose a civilizational and cultural path as well as economic and political models of development, thereby allowing them to avoid making the exclusive "either-or" choice.

Fourth, the proposed foreign policy ideas and priorities are largely low-cost and even economically profitable. The only partial exception is environmental protection, the improvement of the national health system and assistance to the closest partners in modernizing their own health systems. But the development of these spheres will bring economic benefits in the future as well. Besides, this is inevitable anyway. It is always better to lead the way and reap international political benefits than respond to external or internal pressures.

The Policy of Securing Peace

It can encompass three key dimensions.

The first one is reducing the threat of war by easing political confrontation, reducing military activities, and forging dialogue between the military and political leaderships.

It is necessary to improve conflict prevention mechanisms (deconfliction) and to develop rules of conduct in "gray zones," where the threat of unintentional military clash is the highest, especially in the cyber sphere.

One step further, when the Americans appear prepared for it, a new round of arms limitation negotiations can be proposed in order to block the most destabilizing directions of the arms race (space-based weapons, medium-range missiles, low-yield nuclear weapons on strategic carriers, precision non-nuclear weapons, etc.). But there must be no hurry so that to avoid falling into the trap of the traditional "arms control" formula.

It is necessary to propose a multilateral dialogue among all nuclear powers devoted to strengthening strategic stability. The efforts should be aimed at devising new rules of the game in the military-strategic field for the future, which would minimize the possibility of accidental and unauthorized use of nuclear weapons due to a fatal mistake or misjudgment. It would also be desirable to urge all nuclear powers to reject the use of military force, at least against each other, since it risks provoking nuclear escalation and may cause catastrophic consequences for the planet and the whole mankind. Such a statement could be adopted at a meeting of the leaders of the UN Security Council permanent member states.

The second dimension is the strengthening of deterrence. This will remain the main way to prevent the use of force between nuclear powers in the foreseeable future as the world is rapidly restructuring the international system and developing new rules of international co-existence (or restoring traditional ones). When Russia de facto gave up the policy of active deterrence against the West in the 1990s and 2000s, the latter immediately committed a series of aggressive acts (against Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya). A possible slogan for such a policy could be "Russian strength for peace" in contrast to the American "peace through strength."

The strengthening of deterrence means further improvement of Russia's nuclear and non-nuclear deterrent capabilities, without getting involved in an arms race. It also means production of the most advanced strategic systems, but keeping them in limited numbers, without building them up in big quantities. It would also be desirable to extend the New START Treaty until 2026 in order to preserve the current mechanisms of ensuring predictability and to have time for developing a new understanding and architecture for maintaining strategic stability. [2] Russia should keep repeating publicly that a "limited" nuclear war against it is impossible, which would also be true of a nuclear war against Russia in Europe without a retaliatory strike against the United States, or that Russia can be defeated in a large-scale non-nuclear war.

The third dimension is the positioning of Russia as an effective and successful peacemaker, which in fact it already is. Russia should give more importance to peacemaking and the settlement of military conflicts in its foreign policy rhetoric, and to work closely with relevant international organizations and NGOs, engaging more actively with China, as well as BRICS and SCO countries in general, to ensure economic reconstruction in Syria.

Another possible dimension is promoting Russia as an exporter of trust and security through the supply of air and missile defense systems, and the protection of digital infrastructure.

The Policy of Protecting Political, Cultural, Civilizational Diversity, Sovereignty and Freedom of Choice

By playing the role of an independent global center of power, pursuing active policies in key regions of the world, and maintaining balanced relations with regional players, Russia can counter any attempt to impose universalism, political, cultural or economic hegemony, or put countries in a situation where they would have to make a tough "either-or" choice. Perhaps Russia, in cooperation with other BRICS and SCO countries, should consider proposing the establishment of a Global Alliance for Sovereignty and Diversity, an informal association of countries advocating the protection of sovereignty as one of the highest values.

Russia can also become a guarantor of a "New Non-Alignment," bringing together countries that do not want to side with states seeking global or regional hegemony, and that want to develop independently. Naturally, Russia should maintain friendship and strategic partnership with China and seek to improve relations with the United States. This will strengthen Russia's position as a global independent center of power and at the same time make it a desirable partner for countries seeking to avoid an obligatory strategic choice. Russia should also support the existing Non-Aligned Movement. This work is not noticeable in Russia's foreign policy rhetoric and practice yet.

The Policy of Protecting Nature, Earth and Human Life

It may encompass developing a national and international pollution (and, in the long run, carbon emission) control program, including rejection of household plastic products, limitation of harmful emissions and energy losses, and a massive (and at the same time inexpensive) reclamation and reforestation campaign in areas affected by fires or overexploited. This program should include areas around big cities in order to involve more people in the process.

It is necessary to promote, both inside and outside the country, Russia's image as a "green country," emphasizing its nature's riches and diversity as values, not only as a resource of economic development. The Arctic should become the world's main platform for scientific cooperation, a natural laboratory for studying climate change.

As a supplier of environmentally-friendly and resource-intensive goods, Russia can help East Asian countries solve ecological and resource problems. Siberia and the Far East should be actively turned into a region for the development of an innovative resource-based economy built on a fusion of natural wealth and high technologies.

There is also an obvious need to provide information support for our readiness to help increase the supply of organic food and water-intensive goods, bringing tens of millions of hectares of idle land into use. For example, during its BRICS presidency, Russia could propose increasing its grain supplies to Africa using Chinese-built infrastructure. There is an obvious need to establish an International Grain Fund to help in case of crop failures.

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for international cooperation to combat pandemics, including assistance to the least protected countries with weak health systems. Together with China and other BRICS and CSO countries, Russia could lead the way in the following areas: broadening scientific and technical cooperation in the production of vaccines; coordinating the positions of BRICS and SCO countries in the WHO and promoting increased funding and broader powers for the organization; sharing best practices to strengthen national health systems; coordinating BRICS, SCO and G20 countries' policies to assist countries with less developed health systems.

Russia should once again show its readiness to cooperate in dealing with industrial and natural disasters (especially in the most vulnerable countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America). It would be useful to deepen cooperation on these issues within the BRICS and/or SCO framework. Humanitarian assistance offered by China and Russia to a number of European countries opens up opportunities for interaction with them to address these issues.

Russia needs a new humanitarian policy. The Federal Agency for the CIS Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) should turn from an institution organizing relatively low-effective cultural events and seminars abroad into a humanitarian policy coordinating center that would become responsible for the provision of Russian bilateral non-military and non-macroeconomic aid to other countries.

Practical Recommendations

The 75th anniversary of the end of the Great Patriotic War and the Second World War, and Russia's chairmanship in BRICS and the SCO, which have coincided with the world-rattling pandemic, can be used for launching new foreign policy initiatives.

The policy of securing peace, protecting the freedom of choice for all, the environment, and human lives must be implemented gradually over a period of 10-15 years, that is, the expected duration of acute struggle for the restructuring of the international system, the development of new (restoration of old) rules, and the establishment of balances.

A new language free from Cold War-era terminology is very important. For example, instead of "struggle for peace" we should speak of "ensuring peace and saving Earth," "joint peace creation," and "saving Earth and peace as a common cause."

It is necessary to prevent arms race not only in order to reduce the threat of war, but also in order to use the funds thus saved for protecting the environment and reducing social inequality. Russia should propose strengthening not just "strategic stability," but "multilateral strategic stability." New foreign policy initiatives should grab attention even linguistically.

Priority target audiences must be Russian society, elites and people in the non-West―SCO, BRICS, ASEAN and Arab―countries, and such states as Japan, South Korea, and Turkey. A powerful potential ally is China, a country that sustained the biggest human losses in World War II after the Soviet Union.

The West should be considered a target audience, let alone partner, only on a secondary or even tertiary basis. In fact, Western elites, gripped by a massive anti-Russian information campaign, barely hear Russia's reasoning. (Although there is a visible fear of war in Europe and it seems to be more and more willing to cooperate, especially Southern and Central European countries). The obvious inability and unwillingness of the EU and NATO to address the real challenges to European security, migration, and the pandemic will only reinforce this trend. But the desire to take revenge will also grow stronger. It seems that politically the West is already losing the pandemic battle.

Once a tentative "Coalition for Peace and Earth" is established, it would be possible to engage Western countries and their political forces in the implementation of the new policy. In the meantime, it is worth showing the U.S. that it cannot regain strategic superiority. This, however, does not exclude dialogue, even if it can hardly achieve results but is able to improve the atmosphere, at least in the short term.

There is no need to frighten Europe with the Russian force, it is well aware of Russia's capabilities. On the contrary, it should be invited to step up confidence-building measures. It would also be expedient to point out that European NATO countries spend much more on military needs than Russia does today. Dialogues with Europeans should seek to develop common approaches to security challenges, including pandemics, for future. These challenges are not on the East-West axis, on which the North Atlantic Alliance remains stubbornly fixated.

The promotion of these and other ideas for Russia and the world must not be put off until the contours of a new world begin to take shape. The deconstruction of the old and the formation of a new order will occur simultaneously. In this situation one must be not only strong and decisive, but also active and creative.

The sooner Russia shows its own society and everyone else a positive contribution to the world affairs, the more opportunities it will have in building the future world order and the better its chances will be for strengthening itself as one of its founders.
World of Work
BRICS and Global Restructuring: Notes for the Near Future (БРИКС и глобальная реструктуризация: заметки на ближайшее будущее) / Greece, May, 2020
Keywords: research, global_governance

The multipolar cooperation between Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) countries seems to be a significant development in the current phase of restructuring of globalization. This article explores the relationship between the emerging radical readjustment of the world hegemony equilibrium with the past and future dynamics of the global socioeconomic system. It examines the relation of the ongoing institutionalization by the BRICS with the established international institutions and the relation of BRICS to the promotion of global economic development. After presenting
a structured interpretation of the actual emergence of a "new globalization," the article focuses on the aspects of BRICS evolution and dynamics that contribute to the discussion of the rise of a more balanced and more democratic multipolar global regime. It notices that multipolar cooperation at the international level should be more democratic as the BRICS claim, although these countries (China and Russia, in particular) face increasing concerns for their liberal rights and democratization domestically. In conclusion, it seems that a new and relatively stable global system now requires
a repositioned conception of capitalism as an evolutionary socioeconomic phenomenon, in which innovation is the central and predominant organic process within all organizations.
Cai & Chen: The BRICS in the New International Legal Order on Investment: Reformers or Disruptors (Cai & Chen: БРИКС в новом международном правовом порядке по инвестициям: реформаторы или разрушители) / China, May, 2020
Keywords: research, investments

Congyan Cai (Fudan Univ. - Law) & Huiping Chen (Xiamen Univ. - Law) have published The BRICS in the New International Legal Order on Investment: Reformers or Disruptors (Brill | Nijhoff 2020). Contents include:
  • Congyan Cai & Yifei Wang, Introduction
  • Felipe Hees & Henrique Choer Moraes, Investment Facilitation and the Contribution of the Brazilian Approach to the Reform of the Investment Treaties Regime
  • Dmitry K. Labin & Alena V. Soloveva, Russia's Foreign Investment Policy: Recent Developments and Future Trends in Terra (In)Cognita
  • Xiaoxia Lin, India's Investment Treaties: How an Emerging Economic Giant Makes International Commitments
  • Huiping Chen, The "Belt & Road" Initiative and the New Landscape of China's ISDS Policy and Practice
  • Engela C. Schlemmer, Investor Protection in South Africa – Eroded Bit by Bit?
  • Andreas Buser, Recalibrating Policy Space in Bilateral Investment Treaties: Is There a Common B(R)ICS Approach?
  • Xiuyan Fei, Investment Barriers, Investment Facilitation and the BRICS Countries' Investment T
The Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic on International Order and Sino-Russian Relations (Влияние пандемии COVID-19 на международный порядок и китайско-российские отношения) / Russia, May, 2020
Keywords: think_tank_council, covid-19

On May 14, 2020 Russian National Committee on BRICS Research and BRICS Russia Expert Council in cooperation with China Council for the BRICS Think Tank Cooperation held the Russia-China Expert Online Workshop, titled "The Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic on International Order and Sino-Russian Relations".

The experts focused their analysis on the Sino‑Russian relations within the global breakdown of COVID-19. Does the pandemic herald a newly strengthened Sino‑Russian partnership? What will be the affect of COVID‑19 on the global governance architecture, technological paradigm, security system? What is the role for BRICS in the changing reality?


Russia –

Moderator: Dr. Victoria PANOVA, Managing Director of the National Committee on BRICS Research, Scientific Supervisor of the BRICS Russia Expert Council, Vice-President for International Relations of the Far Eastern Federal University

— Prof. Georgy TOLORAYA, Vice-Chairman of the Board of the National Committee on BRICS Research
— Prof. Alexei MASLOV, Director of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences
— Prof. Alexei VOSKRESSENSKI, Director of the Centre for Comprehensive Chinese Studies and Regional Projects, MGIMO University
— Dr. Vassily KASHIN, Head of the CCEIS Section of International military-political and military-economic problems, HSE University
— Dr. Artyom LUKIN, Deputy Director for Research at the School of Regional and International Studies and Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations, Far Eastern Federal University
— Mr. Mikhail KOROSTIKOV, sinologist, political analyst

China –

Moderator: Dr. Luan Jianzhang, Director General of the Research Office of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee,Secretary General of China Council for BRICS Think-tank Cooperation (CCBTC)

— Dr. Ruan Zongze, Executive Vice President, China Institute of International Studies
— Prof. Dr. Gao Fei, Vice President, China Foreign Affairs University
— Prof. Dr. Yang Chen, Professor of School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Shanghai International Studies University
— Prof. Dr. Shen Yi, Professor of School of International Relations and Public Affairs, Director of the BRCIS Research Center, Fudan University
— Dr. Zhang Xin, Deputy Director of Centre for Russian Studies, East China Normal University
— Dr. Zhu Zhaoyi, Deputy Director of BRCIS Research Center, University of International Business and Economics

National Committee on BRICS Research is a non-profit academic think tank, created in 2011. The primary goal of the Committee is to promote Russia's position and its expert assessments internationally, and to coordinate the activities of leading research organizations and experts regarding BRICS. With Russia's Chairmanship of BRICS in 2015 and 2020, the Committee's work has acquired special importance. The National Committee on BRICS Research is an integral part of all the main activities being conducted by the Russian Federation in the framework of its BRICS Chairmanship.

BRICS Russia Expert Council was created in 2019 to carry out scientific research, expert advisory and analytical activities within the framework of preparing and ensuring the Chairmanship of the Russian Federation in the BRICS association with the participation of the National Committee on BRICS Research on the basis of the structural subdivision of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Service under the President of the Russian Federation. The main purpose of the BRICS Expert Council is to organize and carry out research, create expert platforms, work out meaningful issues of ensuring the activity of Russia in the BRICS association, including within the framework of its Chairmanship in 2020, and study the strategies of developing countries and new international formats.

China Council for the BRICS Think Tank Cooperation was created in 2017 to round up 63 think tanks across the country, The major goal of the Council is to provide intellectual support in improving BRICS cooperation.
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