With speeches lasting no more than 5 minutes, the virtual summit of BRICS leaders this Thursday (23) was marked by new criticism from allies Russia and China to the West, complaints from South Africa about the lack of solidarity of the international community with Africa and requests for reforms from multilateral organizations.
Vladimir Putin, who four months ago ordered the military invasion of neighboring Ukraine, said the bloc’s member countries had a key opportunity to strengthen ties to seek ways out of what he called “selfish and individual actions” by states – a reference to Western powers that have sanctioned Moscow.
The speech was echoed in the words of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. He said it was up to the BRICS, among other tasks, to oppose unilateral sanctions and abuses. “Reject the small circles built around hegemonism and practice true multilateralism,” Xi continued, according to state news agency Xinhua.
The text of the summit’s final declaration, published on the Kremlin’s website, says that the BRICS supports the now stalled negotiations between Moscow and Kiev and is committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states – despite the Russian government’s invaded Ukrainian territory and occupied different portions, especially to the east.
Despite fighting a Cold War 2.0 against the US, to which Moscow has also joined, Xi urged BRICS allies to reject the “Cold War mentality” and “block confrontation”. “The BRICS countries have embraced the spirit of win-win cooperation,” he said.
South African Cyril Ramaphosa, in turn, focused his speech on the Covid pandemic. In the country where the omicron variant was sequenced, South Africa had already complained about the international response, and the theme came back in the president’s speech: “It is a matter of great concern that the rest of the global community has not upheld principles of solidarity and cooperation in access equitable to vaccines.”
Ramaphosa also defended peaceful solutions to conflicts, in an indirect reference to the War in Ukraine, and led the call for the democratization of decision-making forums at the UN, with greater inclusion of emerging countries. “So that multilateral institutions can effectively face global challenges”, he justified.
In the same vein, the Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro called for the reform of international organizations – namely the World Bank, the IMF and the UN Security Council. “The growing weight of emerging economies must be properly and deservedly represented,” he said.
Of the nations that make up the BRICS, only South Africa is outside the Security Council. Russia and China are permanent members of the collegiate. India and Brazil are among the rotating members.
Bolsonaro, who has not been active in war diplomacy, also did not mention the Eastern European conflict. But, in a quick passage related to the topic, he said that nations should prioritize the “diplomatic exercise that produces prosperity and peace”. He, who was with Putin on a controversial visit to Russia in February, thanked the Russian leader for his receptivity.
The Brazilian leader was also left with a gaffe at the summit. Twice, he mispronounced the surname of South African Cyril Ramaphosa. Instead of “Ramaphosa”, Bolsonaro said “fox”.
Also in the text of the final declaration published by the Russian government, the member countries say they are committed to the promotion of democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The five nations – especially China, Russia and India –, however, are the target of criticism from the international community for constant violations of human rights and suppression of political freedoms, leading to environments of asphyxiating democracy, as in Beijing, or of widespread deterioration. system, as in the other cases.