Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 2.2022
2022.01.10 — 2022.01.16
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Is Russia really a declining power? (Действительно ли Россия - угасающая держава?) / Russia, January, 2022
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

Uriel Araujo, researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts.

"Russia is a power in decline, meaning the economic importance of Russia, the GDP is not keeping track with many other countries in the world. But even an economy in decline and a power in economic decline can be a threat and a challenge" stated NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on December 16. This is in line with the persistent "paper tiger" view the West has had of Russia for decades and especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Much is talked about the Russian demographic crisis and its supposed resource-dependent economy. Many American experts see Russia as a declining power. In July, US president Joe Biden famously stated that Moscow was "sitting on top of an economy that has nuclear weapons and oil wells and nothing else." Is this so? Sometimes it is necessary to re-state some obvious facts, as Andrew Latham (a professor of international relations and political theory at Macalester College in Saint Paul) convincingly argues in his recent opinion piece.

As the current Ukrainian crisis has demonstrated, and as the Russian role in Venezuela, Syria, in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, currently in Kazakhstan, and elsewhere have shown the world, far from being a "broken former power", by every criteria in the book Russia is indeed a Great Power – as Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) experts Cornell Overfield and Joshua Tallis argue in their 2020 report, quoted by Latham. Moreover, University of North Carolina economics professor Steven Rosefielde, in his 2005 book "Russia in the 21st Century" demonstrates Russia is also a potential superpower. Moscow has both the power to influence political outcomes globally in terms of soft and hard power and the will to do so. It is a military, scientific-technological, space, and economic power.

In addition to being the largest country globally (bordering 16 nations), and to being the ninth-most populous state worldwide, it is also the world's eleventh largest economy (by nominal GDP). If one factors purchasing power parity rather than market exchange rates, Russia is the sixth-largest economy in the world. According to CNA experts Michael Kofman and Andrea Kendall-Talor, also quoted by Latham, GDP anyway is often a quite poor measure of real geopolitical power and today it does not translate so directly into international influence or even military potential.

Be it as it may, Russia is ranked as "very high" in the Human Development Index, and it has a free university education, and a universal healthcare system besides being one of the leading countries in science and technology power - it possesses the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, too. Its energy and mineral resources are the world's largest.

Since the First Chechen Campaign in the nineties, Kofman and Kendall-Taylor argue, Russia has dramatically modernized its military forces and intelligence agencies and updated its nuclear capacities. Even though its economy might seem somewhat small, Moscow today is capable of projecting its power employing nuclear and hypersonic capabilities, as well as cyber-operations.

Moreover, according to Sven Peterson – a Central & East European, Russian & Eurasian Studies (Erasmus Mundus International Master) researcher - Russia has a modern identity forged since the times of Peter the Great's reforms and also during the Napoleonic Wars and then the Soviet period. Moscow as well the Russian society at large sees the country as a key player in the global stage. And Russia has projected its power abroad, be it in South America or on the Africa continent. That has not changed today: Moscow asserts itself – militarily and diplomatically – in opposition to Western institutions such as the NATO. The Eurasian Economic Union is a good example of regional integration including post-Soviet countries. As Kathryn E. Stoner argues in her 2021 book ("Russia Resurrected"), Moscow's ability to shape global politics is often missed simply because many Western experts fail to understand its intentions and purposes.

Besides being one of the five Security Council's permanent members, it is part of the G8 and played key role in developing the BRICS group. Moscow also played an important role in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.

Even so, Washington has consistently refused to acknowledge even Russia's status as a regional power. This goes to show that the US-Russian dispute, far from being merely a Cold Age ideological conflict, actually has a geopolitical content. Beyond simply misunderstanding Russian role, as Latham argues, the issue is even a kind of existential challenge For American identity. Even though many former Soviet Republics have sought to maintain their ties with Moscow, and even though Russian civilization has a common history and has for centuries kept economic, political, and religious relations with a number of Slavic and Turkic peoples as well as many other ethnic groups, from an American perspective Moscow is not to have even a "zone of influence" of its own. In fact, for many influential US thinkers and policy makers, Russia should instead cease to exist altogether.

The late Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as a national advisor to former US President Jimmy Carter, and remained an enormously influential diplomat and foreign policy expert, was an open advocate for the further (after the collapse of the Soviet Union) fragmentation of Russia into a loose confederation. In a 1997 Foreign Affairs piece, he called for a "[a] loosely confederated Russia - composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic and a Far Eastern Republic." Brzezinski advocated this while speaking about "America's global primacy" - over the Eurasian landmass too, of course. According to him, the US should "perpetuate the prevailing geopolitical pluralism on the map of Eurasia", so as to prevent even "the remote possibility of any one state" seeking to "challenge America's primacy".

However, both unipolarity and bipolarity are somewhat anomalous configurations of power in the History of the nations - that simply cannot last forever. The US is not the sole superpower anymore and rather than a return to bipolarity or to a new "Cold Age", we are entering an age of great power disputes and competition in a multipolar world - with lots of room for cooperation and collaboration. Misreading Russia is misreading today's international order, as Latham piece so clearly puts it.

"The report of my death was an exaggeration" said the great American writer Mark Twain - a phrase often misquoted as "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated". Similarly, reports on the supposed decline of Russia are not new. This notion however is but a myth as is the very notion of American unipolarity.

The refusal to properly assess Russia's status and role in the global arena is often part of a Western wishful thinking. Moreover, part of the American Establishment seems to be unable to think of its own country outside of the context of a unipolar world. The very existence of a Russian state is thus perceived as a threat.
World Insights: Multilateralism sheds light on Asia-Pacific prospect in 2022 (World Insights: Многосторонний подход проливает свет на перспективы Азиатско-Тихоокеанского региона в 2022 году) / China, January, 2022
Keywords: global_governance, expert_opinion

BEIJING, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Coming into force at the beginning of the year, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world's largest free trade deal, set "multilateralism" as a key word for Asia-Pacific region in 2022.

This year China took over as the chair of BRICS and will host the 14th BRICS Summit, while the APEC Informal Leaders' Retreat, the Group of 20 Leaders' Summit, and meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will also be held in Asian countries throughout the year, providing solid multilateral platforms for global leaders to address economic and pandemic challenges facing the global community.

Meanwhile, the surging Omicron variant, humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and irresponsible political and military actions taken by the United States still cast a shadow of uncertainty over the future of the region.


After eight years of negotiations, 15 Asia-Pacific countries, covering about 30 percent of the global population, gross domestic product and trade volume, in November 2020 signed the RCEP deal, which came into force on Jan. 1, 2022.

According to China's Ministry of Commerce, within the RCEP framework, over 90 percent of the import tariffs between participating countries would be phased out, bringing benefits to both enterprises and consumers.

The import and export of goods worth more than 1.4 trillion U.S. dollars annually between China and other RCEP members will thus be subject to preferential tariffs, it added.

The entry into force of the agreement is of great significance in promoting regional trade, reinforcing the industrial and supply chains and quickening global economic recovery from the pandemic.

"In addition to tariff reduction, the RCEP has also set a benchmark for economic and trade rules in the Asia-Pacific region," said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin, hailing the rollout of the pact as "a major victory for multilateralism and free trade."


Despite the rays of hope brought by the pact, the prospect for economic recovery in Asia-Pacific remains uncertain due to the fast-spreading Omicron variant, which has triggered another wave of pandemic in the region since late 2021. Countries are once again forced to impose strict control measures and boost vaccination drives. Hoping for the best while preparing for the worst, Asia-Pacific countries are walking a tightrope at the year's beginning.

In Afghanistan, humanitarian crisis is worsening, as the United Nations' World Food Program warned earlier that the country is facing "an avalanche of hunger and destitution."

If the crisis is not alleviated, Afghanistan may again fall into turmoil and chaos and turn into a hotbed of extremist and terrorist organizations, endangering regional security and stability.

The United States, who plunged Afghanistan into a dire situation following the two-decade war and imposed unilateral sanctions on the country after its hasty flight, should absolutely take the blame for aggravating the already miserable humanitarian crisis.

Apart from in Afghanistan, Washington, a longtime trouble maker in the region, has also been spreading lies and erecting obstacles in the Pacific by setting up exclusive blocs such as AUKUS and Quad, putting in peril regional peace and stability.

Facing economic and security risks, regional countries should uphold true multilateralism and stand in even stronger solidarity for cooperation, analysts said. Enditem
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Killer Acquisitions and Other Forms of Anticompetitive Collaborations in Time of Corona (Убийственные приобретения и другие формы антиконкурентного сотрудничества во времена коронавируса) / Russia, January, 2022
Keywords: research, economic_challenges

This research paper examines 'killer acquisitions' and other detrimental collaborations. Acquisitions today represent collaborations rather than clear cut change of control of businesses and assets. Sellers may retain a minority post and management often are included as shareholders through share or option programmes as part of the acquisitions. This two-part paper examines similar forms of detrimental collaborations using the pharmaceutical industry as an example.
Brics bank reports 24% fall in profit in first nine months of 2021 (Банк Brics сообщает о падении прибыли на 24% за первые девять месяцев 2021 года) / South Africa, January, 2022
Keywords: ndb, economic_challenges
South Africa

The New Development Bank says profit fell to $96m as a flurry of debt issuance lifted interest payments.

The New Development Bank (NDB), the multilateral development financier set up by Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA (Brics), said profit fell more than 24% in the first nine months of 2021.

The Shanghai-headquartered bank, which was often referred to as the Brics bank previously in honour of its founding nations, said profit in the nine months ended September 30 fell to $96m, down from $124m in the corresponding period the previous year, according to a statement posted on the stock exchange news service (Sens) on Monday
New Development Bank updates: NDB enters 2022 in expansion mode (Новые обновления Банка развития: НБР входит в 2022 год в режиме расширения) / Russia, January, 2022
Keywords: ndb

SHANGHAI, January 13. The New Development Bank (NDB) – established by BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) – is starting 2022 in expansion mode after welcoming four new members in the previous year.

NDB was created in 2015 with the aim of becoming a global development bank to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development. During its first years of operation, the Bank focused on building solid foundations to operate at scale. After the initial establishment phase, NDB has now started admitting new members.

NDB's Board of Governors authorized the Bank to conduct formal negotiations with prospective members in late 2020. After a round of successful negotiations, NDB has admitted four new members in 2021: Bangladesh, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Uruguay.

"We are delighted to welcome Bangladesh, Egypt, UAE and Uruguay to the NDB. They bring over 280 million people that can benefit from NDB's investments in infrastructure and sustainable development", said Mr. Marcos Troyjo, President of NDB. "We will continue to expand the Bank's membership in a gradual and balanced manner".

NDB's membership expansion is in line with the Bank's strategy to be positioned as the premier development institution for emerging economies and developing countries.

Since the beginning of its operations, NDB approved about 80 projects in all of its members, totaling a portfolio of US$ 30 billion. Projects in areas such as transport, water and sanitation, clean energy, digital infrastructure, social infrastructure and urban development are within the scope of the Bank.

Background information

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. NDB has an authorized capital of US$ 100 billion, which is open for subscription by members of the United Nations.
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