Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 3.2021
2021.01.18— 2021.01.24
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Pompeo is right, India's ties with China and Russia have worsened (Помпео прав, связи Индии с Китаем и Россией ухудшились) / Pakistan, January, 2021

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo published a provocative tweet during his final full day in office. Alongside pictures of himself with the Brazilian and Indian leaders, he wrote: "Remember BRICS? Well, thanks to Jair Bolsonaro and Narendra Modi the B and the I both get that the C and the R are threats to their people." Although this is coming from the same man who infamously said that "we lied, we cheated, we stole" while talking about his time serving as the CIA Director, he's actually telling the truth this time. There's no longer any question that India doesn't trust China anymore, especially after last summer's deadly clashes along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), while it's clear that unprecedented distrust has recently infected its relations with Russia.

What America's former top diplomat didn't say, however, is that India is responsible for the deterioration of both relationships to differing degrees after falling under the US' influence. I wrote earlier in the month about how "America's Declassified Indo-Pacific Strategy Shows How Badly Trump Failed" after the US couldn't "contain" China with India like that foreign policy document set out as one of its main tasks. Nevertheless, Washington did indeed succeed insofar as turning those neighbouring Asian giants against one another by encouraging New Delhi to violate the LAC with Beijing. The resultant chain of events ruined relations between those two, which likely won't repair themselves anytime soon.

Regarding India's relations with Russia, these too were greatly damaged due to American meddling. The US convinced India to fully commit to the anti-Chinese Quad, which in turn prompted Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to voice his suspicions about this emerging military alliance late last year. India, reacting as defensively as it always does whenever it's caught red-handed doing something that it earlier claimed it wouldn't ever do (be it supporting terrorism against Pakistan whenever Islamabad calls it out for that or joining the anti-Chinese Quad despite reassuring Russia that it never had any such negative intentions against Beijing), instinctively ordered some of its chief influencers to wage an anti-Russian information war that I analysed at the time here.

Taken together, Pompeo was therefore surprisingly telling the truth in his provocative tweet. It's a bit of hyperbole to claim that India regards Russia as a "threat" though, but it certainly doesn't it trust it as much as it used to after its influencers spread the false narrative very strongly implying that Moscow has submitted to Beijing in terms of regional affairs and therefore can't be relied upon like it historically could. Even so, however, I explained earlier this week that "The Future Of US-Indian Relations Depends On New Delhi's S-400 Decision". That piece analysed the complex dynamics between India, the US, Russia, and China, concluding that Indian-American and Indian-Russian relations are greatly influenced by US-Chinese ones.

All of these observations confirm that BRICS isn't what it used to be before Donald Trump entered office. Four years ago, there was plenty of hope that this structure would remain united and eventually deliver on its promise to make the world a better place. Regrettably, the US succeeded in splitting it from within by co-opting Modi's India, which in turn ruined relations with China and even worsened them with its historic ally Russia. BRICS is nowadays a shadow of its former self, a slogan that's mostly kept alive for nostalgia's sake because its stakeholders believe that it's better for each of them to do so than to formally disband the organisation.

It might one day fulfil some of the very high (and arguably mostly unrealistic) expectations held of it in the geopolitical sense, but that can only occur in a post-Modi India, which probably won't happen anytime soon. For the time being, BRICS is moribund, but it's not yet dead since the optics surrounding its continued existence (mostly on paper, that is) serve each member's interests. The lesson to be learned is that Modi's India duped its "fellow" BRICS "partners", yet he himself was just made a fool of after his American patron lost re-election. There's a chance that India might try to crawl back to Russia and China, but it'll be on their terms, not its own.

The annual meeting of the Russian-Chinese Business Council took place at the CCI of Russia (В ТПП России состоялось ежегодное заседание Российско-Китайского Делового Совета.) / Russia, January, 2021
Keywords: business_council, top_level_meeting

At the annual meeting of the Russian-Chinese Business Council (RCBC), participants discussed the prospects for business interaction during pandemic COVID-19. The event was hosted by Boris Titov, Commissioner for the Rights of Entrepreneurs under the President of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the Russian-Chinese Committee for Friendship, Peace and Development.

Boris Titov noted that, despite the difficult situation in the world, the RCBC continues to remain a reliable institution for interaction between Russia and China, which actively participates in the implementation of mutually beneficial contracts between countries. He expressed hope that in the coming year the council will make every effort to return to the pre-crisis volumes of trade and the deals being made.

The head of the Chinese Committee for the Promotion of International Trade in the Russian Federation (CCPIT), Gao Qi, read out a greeting from the Chairman of the Chinese Committee for the Promotion of International Trade Ms. Gao Yan to the meeting participants. She warmly greeted the participants of the 7th RKBC meeting and expressed her hope for an increase in trade between Russia and China to $ 200 billion in 2021.

Then the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to Russia Zhang Hanhui made a welcoming speech. He noted that, despite the pandemic, the foundations of mutually beneficial cooperation have been fully preserved and continue to show their stability. The Ambassador of the People's Republic of China gave data on the volume of trade in 2020 - it amounted to 107.77 billion US dollars. About the same was in the pre-crisis 2018. According to Zhang Hanhui, supplies of medical equipment from China and agricultural products from Russia have increased. The parties have made serious progress in cooperation in the field of digital technologies. He noted that the Chinese partners are fully prepared for the implementation of current tasks and intend to help bring trade and economic relations to a new level.

The Vice-president of the RF CCI, Vladimir Padalko, noted that over the past year, an interesting experience of online interaction was acquired. Business circles have learned not only to communicate at a distance, but also to conduct important international events. And here the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has certain achievements. In particular, in 2020, together with colleagues from the Chinese Embassy in Russia, an online presentation of the Canton Fair was held, as part of the Russian chairmanship in the SCO and BRICS, together with partners in the SCO and BRICS business councils, relevant business forums were organized. The vice-president of the CCI of Russia expressed confidence that after the opening of the borders, the accumulated experience of online interaction, it seems, could be integrated into traditional mechanisms of trade and economic cooperation, thereby giving it an additional impetus to development.

The chairman of the Union of Chinese Entrepreneurs in Russia, Zhou Liquun, addressed the meeting participants with a welcoming speech. In it, he noted the high productivity of the RCBC. Almost all initiatives of Chinese entrepreneurs received full support from both the Business Council and the RF Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Then the participants of the event discussed the candidacies of members of the Supervisory Board of RCBC and approved the Regulations on the Supervisory Board of RCBC .

Alexey Kalashnik, Chairman of the Board of RCBC, presented a report on the activities of the Russian-Chinese Business Council in 2020. He noted that as a result of the epidemiological situation, a number of planned joint activities had to be postponed to this year. Nevertheless, the Business Council ensured its participation in a number of Russian-Chinese intergovernmental commissions, actively contributing its proposals and comments.

The event participants approved the financial plan of RCBC for 2021 and the size of membership and entrance fees to RCBC

At the end of the meeting, Alexey Kalashnik acquainted those present with the Work Plan of the RCBC for 2021, which was adopted

Twenty years on, the Brics still require better global governance (Спустя двадцать лет БРИКС по-прежнему требует лучшего глобального управления) / United Kingdom, January, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance
United Kingdom
Author: Jim O'Neill
Source: link

The need for transnational institutions that reflect the reality of the global economy is as acute as when we first called it out

This November will mark the 20th anniversary of the Bric acronym that I coined to capture the economic potential of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Many commentators will be revisiting the concept and assessing each country's performance since 2001, so here are my own thoughts.

First, and contrary to repeated suggestion, the main point of my original November 2001 paper, The World Needs Better Economic Brics, was neither to forecast endless growth for these economies, nor to promote some new marketing concept for investment funds. As anyone who read that paper will know, the central argument was that these economies' probable growth in relative GDP would have important implications for global-governance arrangements.

With 2001 having been the third year since the introduction of the euro, I argued that large European countries — namely, France, Germany, and Italy — should be represented collectively, rather than individually, at the G7, the International Monetary Fund, and other organisations, thereby making room for the world's rising economic powers.

I then outlined four different scenarios of what the global economy might look like in 2010, three of which conjectured that the four Brics' share of global GDP would grow. In the event, the 2000-10 decade turned out to be both absolutely and relatively better for each Bric than I had foreseen in any of my scenarios. But until the 2008 financial crisis, there was virtually no notable change of global-governance structures. And while that upheaval did result in the creation of the G20 summits and some reforms within the IMF and the World Bank, it is troubling that an economic disaster was needed to effect even limited change.

Within a year of the G20 summits' formation, the Brics had added South Africa and formed their own geopolitical club. Yet while this development reinforced the original economic concept, it didn't seem to accomplish much beyond that. Worse, there has been very little progress on the global-governance front since then, even in the face of a deadly pandemic.

Returning to the Bric economic story, between 2003 and 2011, my colleagues and I came up with various projections for how each economy would do between then and 2050. This work, too, led to a few misperceptions, one being that we were offering a concrete forecast. In fact, the title of our 2003 paper, Dreaming with Brics: The Path to 2050, made clear that we were imagining one possible, aspirational path, and we certainly didn't predict persistently strong growth rates across the board.

For the 2021-30 decade, we assumed a real (inflation-adjusted) GDP growth rate of less than 5% per year for China, and suggested that only India would still be experiencing accelerating growth after 2020 (owing to its strong demographics).

We do not yet know the 2020 GDP numbers for major economies, but most countries' real and nominal 2020 GDP will certainly be smaller than in 2019, and probably significantly so in the case of Brazil, India and Russia. The exception will be China, the GDP of which will probably have increased by 5% or more in nominal (US dollar-denominated) terms, further increasing its share of global GDP.

The pandemic comes on the tail of a decade (2011-20) that was nowhere near as fruitful as the first one. Brazil and Russia's respective shares of global GDP are probably roughly back to their level in 2001. And while India has emerged as the world's fifth-largest economy, it has suffered several rocky years. China alone enjoyed remarkable success during this period. With a nominal GDP of more than $15tn, its economy is around 15 times bigger than it was in 2001, triple the size of Germany and Japan, and five times the size of the United Kingdom and India. Already around three quarters the size of the United States, its economy is on track to become the largest this decade in nominal terms, having already achieved this threshold in purchasing power parity terms.

Despite a disappointing decade for Brazil and Russia, it is still possible that the Bric grouping could become as large as the G7 within the next generation. If international trade, investment, and financial flows between the Bric countries and the rest of the world continue, this growth would be good for everyone.

But that is a big if. Much will depend on whether we can muster the political leadership to strengthen international governance and the openness to which Western democracies have long aspired. In terms of these political questions, the Brics' second decade has been tough. Relations between the West (the US and Europe) and China and Russia are as fraught as they have been in decades, though the recent conclusion of an EU-China investment agreement offers some good news.

One hopes that the arrival of US President-elect Joe Biden's administration and Britain's chairing of the G7 will make up for lost time. There appears to be some momentum behind the idea of creating a larger Democratic Ten (D10) alliance comprising the G7 members and Australia, India, and South Korea. From a Western perspective, this grouping would have obvious geopolitical and diplomatic advantages, and might help with the governance of cyberspace and technology, but it is unclear what purpose it would serve for the wider world.

Indeed, a D10 could raise more questions than it answers. Why not include other democracies that are already in the G20, such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico? Why would South Korea want to be in a group that excludes China, its huge economic neighbour, but includes Japan, with which it is often in diplomatic spats? How relevant could the D10 possibly be in efforts to address climate change, global economic stability and equality, and issues such as the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and antimicrobial resistance?

What the world really needs is what we called for back in 2001: genuinely representative global economic governance. Let us hope there is a renewed desire to take this path under the new US administration.

Jim O'Neill, a former chair of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, is chair of think-tank Chatham House.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2021

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Russia's renewable energy perspectives (Перспективы возобновляемых источников энергии в России) / Russia, January, 2021
Keywords: research, economic_challenges, energy

As observed by some analysts, our present era of fossil-fueled economies can be considered as one among other critical elements that contributes to an accelerating trend related to global warming, prompting a heightened sense of urgency towards the replacement of fossil fuels as sources for electricity generation (BURKE & STEPHENS, 2018). In order to address such issues, more and more countries have come to the conclusion about the necessity of transitioning to renewable energy grids. Recently, the economic attractiveness of renewable energy has been increasing, with some analysis indicating "significant historical cost declines for utility-scale renewable energy generation technologies driven by, among other factors, decreasing capital costs, improving technologies and increased competition".

The cost of utility-scale electricity by source for wind power for instance has decreased 70% between 2009 and 2019, while the cost for utility-scale solar generated energy has dropped 89% in the same period. In 2019, the cost of producing 1 MWh using coal generated power was 109 USD, 56 USD for gas and 155 USD by means of nuclear energy; meanwhile the cost of producing 1 MWh through utility-scale wind generation grids was only 41 USD, while the cost of utility-scale solar energy revolved around 40 USD.

Within such a context, Russia has also joined ranks with countries that now place a special emphasis on development of renewable energy sources. According to Adnan Amin, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), by 2030 the share of renewable energy sources in the Russian energy sector is expected to increase more than threefold and exceed 11%. Currently, the main type of energy generation based on renewable sources in Russia is hydropower; hydroelectricity power plants' generation in the country has increased for instance 15.8% from 2008 to 2018, while Russia's hydropower potential accounts for about 9% of the global total. The Energy Strategy of Russia for the period up to 2035 has moreover developed a detailed plan for energy consumption related to the most different sources, whereas by 2030 the share of renewable energy sources is expected to consist of 4.9% (therefore less optimistic than IRENA's predictions), including Russia's plans to increase solar, wind and geothermal generation

In terms of wind energy, ROSATOM [the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation] was granted a number of projects in this particular area with a total volume of generation in the following years estimated to consist of 610 MW. In 2017, Alexey Teksler, then First Deputy Minister of Energy, mentioned that Russia had all the more so a big export potential for wind and solar electricity, expressing confidence that ROSATOM could produce 'the best wind stations in the world'. Nevertheless, the historically centralized system of production and distribution of electricity based on traditional sources is still one of the main barriers to a wider realization of Russia's potential in terms of renewable energy use. The country nevertheless intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to 75% of the 1990's level, whereas renewable energy is an essential factor to achieve this goal.

Within the frameworks of BRICS, moreover, Russia (alongside Brazil, India, China and South Africa), has made a significant contribution to the prospects of the renewable energy momentum, by establishing the New Development Bank (NDB), aimed to finance sustainable development projects within BRICS and other developing economies. Since its inception in 2015, the NDB has approved 14 loans totalling some 3.6 billion USD to finance projects related to renewable and clean energy in all BRICS countries (NDB, n/d). Russia alone was granted 400 million USD by the bank for sustainable and clean energy projects.

In order to achieve success in the renovation of energy grids around the world, it is paramount for policy-makers (be it in Moscow or elsewhere) to think about large-scale use of renewable energy, rather than ad hoc implementations of different sources such as wind or solar-based generation. Moreover, the continuing trend towards a more widespread use of renewable sources will largely depend on the ability of governments to ensure sustainable – as opposed to predatory – economic growth, prompting the creation of new jobs in the renewable energy sector as well as promoting a new mindset for companies and energy consumers.

Mitigations pathways towards sustainable development: Assessing the influence of fiscal and monetary policies on carbon emissions in BRICS economies (Пути смягчения последствий для устойчивого развития: оценка влияния налогово-бюджетной и денежно-кредитной политики на выбросы углерода в экономиках БРИКС) / China, January, 2021
Keywords: research, sustainable_development, economic_challenges


  • The current work presents a novel framework to explore the dynamic impacts of expansionary and contractionary fiscal and monetary policies on carbon emissions for BRICS countries.
  • The panel ordinary least squares (OLS), dynamic OLS, fully-modified OLS, and pooled mean group (PMG) ARDL estimators are applied.
  • The expansionary fiscal and monetary policies escalate the carbon emissions, while the contractionary fiscal and monetary policies rehabilitate the environmental quality by decreasing CO2e.
  • Granger causality tests validate the results by asserting the causal relationships among the estimates.


For the past two decades, the body of literature on environmental economics hosts several environmental problems and highlights their causes, calling for immediate action on environmental pollution. In this context, the current article extends the literature by developing a new model that links macroeconomic (fiscal and monetary) policies, aggregate domestic consumer spending per capita, fossil fuel consumption, and renewable energy consumption with carbon dioxide emissions in BRICS economies from 1985 to 2014. The Kao and Westerlund cointegration tests' outcome confirm the long-run association among the variables. The panel ordinary least squares (OLS), dynamic OLS, fully-modified OLS, and pooled mean group (PMG) panel autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) estimators reveal the following main findings. First, the expansionary fiscal policy intensifies the harmful repercussions of CO2e. However, contractionary fiscal policy serves as an effective measure to mitigate the detrimental effects of CO2e. Second, expansionary and contractionary monetary policies also deteriorate and ameliorate environmental quality, respectively. Third, aggregate domestic consumer spending and fossil fuels exhibit a positive association with pollution. Fourth, renewable energy enhances the atmospheric quality by disrupting CO2e. The Granger causality test is also applied to confirm the causal relationship between the variables. Based on the current results, the article suggests some salient implications for authorities to design effective policies and plans for curtailing CO2e.
A Debt Market Model for the BRICS (Модель долгового рынка для БРИКС) / Russia, January, 2021
Keywords: research, economic_challenges

The author introduces an approach for a consensual economic policy for a group of rapidly developing countries as a response to contemporary global economic challenges. This article reconsiders the problems of international economic integration in the period of deglobalization. The author puts forward the hypothetical model of a debt market of BRICS-bonds. The paper discusses approaches to servicing government debt and budget deficits in the BRICS based on the shared framework of financial and economic institutions. The author formulates the possibilities of a shared economic policy in the BRICS that could help overcome the consequences of the crisis caused by COVID-19. The author proposes a unique budget deficit optimization approach for the BRICS. The article evaluates the options for automatic and state-run budget deficit services and identifies the optimal level of taxation and the average weighted tax rate for the BRICS. The author investigates the potential of the BRICS to use financial resources of the shared debt market based on the gradualist approach for a consensual economic policy.
Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to media questions at a news conference on the results of Russian diplomacy in 2020, Moscow, January 18, 2021 (Выступление и ответы на вопросы СМИ Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации С.В.Лаврова в ходе пресс-конференции по итогам деятельности российской дипломатии в 2020 году, Москва, 18 января 2021 года) / Russia, January, 2021
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, speech, mofa

Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,

This is our traditional news conference on the foreign policy outcomes of 2020. It is traditional, but remote. We opted for a format that was widely used over the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions imposed in almost all countries, including Russia.

Despite the pandemic, our Ministry kept in close contact with you and your colleagues at all levels. I myself had the pleasure of speaking to you following talks, which did take place several times in Moscow, and will continue to do so. I also spoke to you in a video format. My deputies regularly talk with agencies. The Ministry's official spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, conducts regular weekly briefings and, in between them, interacts with most of you. I am sure you are aware of the facts and information about what Russian foreign policy is currently promoting in the international arena.

The pandemic has dealt a severe blow to all forms of communication, particularly contacts between people in culture, research, sports and tourism. This caused major shifts in public consciousness in many countries. We know this from daily reports coming from European and other countries. In Russia, we are also trying to minimise the inconveniences caused by objective sanitary restrictions on everyday life. However, certain and not too positive changes are still being felt. You are probably following the discussion focusing on Russia's epidemiological policy, including the Sputnik V vaccine, EpiVacCorona and the third vaccine, which is on its way.

We reiterate what President of Russia Vladimir Putin said in August 2020 when announcing the registration of the world's first coronavirus vaccine: we are wide open to cooperation in these matters. We had a positive response to the proposals that the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) had made to its foreign partners with regard to organising licensed production. This topic is being discussed with our colleagues in Asia, the Arab East, Africa and Latin America. Not long ago, President Putin and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel also briefly discussed the prospects for Russian-German and Russian-European cooperation in producing and improving vaccines. I think this is the right path to take based on the desire to consolidate our efforts and the solidarity of humankind. Unfortunately, not everywhere and not always has this quest for solidarity and joint work manifested itself during the pandemic. Some of our Western colleagues, primarily the United States and its closest allies, tried to take advantage of the situation and to ratchet up pressure, blackmail, ultimatums and illegitimate actions while introducing unilateral restrictions and other forms of interference in the internal affairs of many countries, including our closest neighbour Belarus.

The West unanimously ignored the calls by the UN Secretary General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to suspend, at least for the duration of the pandemic, unilateral and illegitimate sanctions regarding the supply of medications, food and equipment needed to fight the virus while Russia was ready to back up this approach. President Putin put forward a parallel initiative during the G20 summit to create green corridors in the economy that are free from sanctions and other artificial barriers. Unfortunately, these sensible appeals - both ours and those of the UN leaders - were left hanging in the air.

Last year we observed the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII, the birth of the United Nations and the entry into force of its Charter. Against the backdrop of these anniversaries, we are very concerned about the continuous arrogant actions of the United States and most of its Western allies, which are aimed at undermining international security, which is based on the UN, its Charter and its agencies and replacing the traditional norms and standards of international law with a "rules-based international order."

Some exclusive mechanisms – groups of so-called co-thinkers began to be set up in this context outside the UN and its universal agencies. These narrow groups are trying to impose their decisions on all members of the international community. One of the manifestations of these rules on which the West would like to establish a new international order is the concept of multilateralism, which our German and French colleagues have started promoting in the past two years. The descriptions of this concept in the public statements of the German and French foreign ministers make it very clear that the EU wants to present itself and everything it does as a foreign policy ideal. The EU views the establishment of specific rules as its exclusive right in the belief that all others must follow these standards. Examples are many.

The EU has held special events on cybersecurity, freedom of the media and international humanitarian law outside UN agencies. These events have been attended by several dozen countries. Holding them outside the UN framework is very indicative. It is based on the understanding that in the UN the advocates of this concept will have to meet people with somewhat different views on ensuring cybersecurity, freedom of the media, especially in today's world, and on how to ensure the equal application of the standards of international humanitarian law. In my opinion, unless I am convinced of the opposite, these are apprehensions of competition and the understanding that in today's world the West can no longer dictate its own orders to others as it has over the last five centuries. History is moving forward, it is developing. This has nothing to do with ideology. This is just a statement of fact. It is necessary to consider the views of the countries that now have a much greater weight in the world arena (completely incomparable with that of the colonial era) and the countries that want to preserve their civilisational identity and that do not see in the West the ideals for their societies. Tolerance of diversity is another characteristic that the West is losing very quickly.

There are situations where half a dozen people that have created their own technological empires do not even want to know what rights they have in their own states. They determine their rights themselves proceeding from so-called corporate standards and completely ignore the constitutions of their states. We have seen this clearly in the US and this is a source of deep concern. Much has been said about this recently in television reports and special analytical materials. We are not pleased by the attempts of the Western elites to find external enemies to resolve their internal political problems. They find these enemies in Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. The list of these countries is well known.

We all see the response to the news of Alexey Navalny's return to the Russian Federation. Carbon-copy comments on this event are coming in one after another. They are full of joy because they allow Western politicians to think that in this way they can divert public attention away from the deepest crisis of the liberal development model.

I am convinced that it is necessary not to seek outside excuses to justify one's own actions or sidetrack attention from one's deepest problems and crises. On the contrary, it is essential to play an honest game and look for opportunities to resolve domestic problems via fair and equitable international cooperation. No one can expect to resolve its own problems outside multilateral formats any longer.

Russia strives to act as constructively as possible in the international arena. We are convinced that we must sit down and discuss all existing grievances rather than wrangle with each other. We have always been ready to do so: back when Russia was accused of "interference" in the US elections, in Barcelona, during Brexit, the Skripal case, the Malaysian Boeing, which was shot down over Ukraine in July 2014, and with regard to Alexey Navalny. I can later cite in more detail the arguments that you are well aware of. In every above case and in other cases where we were accused of something specific, we have never been given evidence that would corroborate these unfounded accusations. We've only heard "highly likely," "no one else has these motives" or "only you have such capabilities, so you are guilty, so we don't need to prove anything." They just don't provide the facts, which is what decent people always do in order to justify their discussions.

We are interested in addressing problems through a dialogue. However, "forcing a closed door" that the West keeps "under lock and key" is beneath our dignity. Your governments are well aware of our proposals that we have made repeatedly, starting with the dialogue on strategic offensive arms, arms control and nonproliferation to interaction on cybersecurity and non-deployment of weapons in space. There are many such areas. For each of them, Russia has proposals for establishing honest cooperation on key threats that are common to all countries around the world instead of using these threats to achieve unilateral geopolitical advantages by means of unscrupulous competition. President Putin's initiative to hold a summit of the five UN Security Council permanent members is a manifestation of such a desire to start a dialogue. All other leaders of the Group of Five responded positively to this proposal. Unfortunately, the pandemic made holding such a meeting impossible. We are convinced that the leaders must meet in person. We hope this summit will take place the epidemic situation permitting.

With regard to promoting a positive agenda, we invite our Western partners to return to common sense and to consider under the UN umbrella their ideas on cyber security, freedom of the media and many other problems that they are trying to resolve among themselves.

We will introduce similar approaches in other organisations of which Russia is a member, including the SCO, BRICS, the CSTO, the CIS and the EAEU.

President Putin's initiative, which we are promoting, is to form the Greater Eurasian Partnership that is open to all Eurasian countries without exception by way of an equal collective dialogue. This covers the EU countries along with the EAEU, the SCO and ASEAN members. Generally speaking, it covers countries that are not part of any regional organisations, but are located in Eurasia. I would like to note the importance of the G20, an association that unites the Western G7, which is no longer able to overcome global challenges all by itself. The G20 also brings together the BRICS countries and the like-minded nations which share our common philosophy: to say no to confrontation and to address existing problems on a balance of interests.

Today we will discuss ongoing conflicts as well. We are working with other countries to advance a settlement in Syria, to break the deadlock of the intra-Libyan conflict that erupted after NATO countries' aggression had undermined the Libyan statehood almost 10 years ago.

We will also talk about other hot spots in the Middle East and North Africa, primarily the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which they are undeservedly trying to put on the back burner.

Quite recently, we released a multi-page document on the main foreign policy results of 2020. It contains a lot of hard facts. I hope you have had a chance to read it.

Today, we will focus on challenges facing the world which quickly change our daily lives.


Question: Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi has said recently that China and Russia would continue to provide an example of the development of neighbourly and friendly relations between world powers, boost the revitalisation of the global economy and maintain global strategic stability. What possibilities do you envision for the further development of ties between our two countries? What can Russia and China do to hinder foreign interference and attempts to drive a wedge between their cooperation?

Sergey Lavrov: We have very close strategic relations with the People's Republic of China. Our leaders are good friends who maintain regular trust-based communication. Their personal contacts were complicated last year, yet they managed to have at least five detailed telephone conversations and videoconferences. We have held a regular, 25th meeting of our heads of government, contacts between the five subcommissions set up under the guidance of our prime ministers, and a meeting of the Russian-Chinese Inter-Parliamentary Commission. We held joint celebrations of the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. A Chinese delegation led by Defence Minister Wei Fenghe and a Chinese Honour Guard company attended the parade held on Red Square on June 24, 2020. We appreciate this.

We are now implementing a major project, the Year of Russian-Chinese Scientific, Technical and Innovative Cooperation. It is currently the most important matter designed to give a second lease of life and a new quality to our trade and economic interaction. Unlike many other countries, we managed to prevent our mutual trade from decreasing during the pandemic. It is developing quite sustainably. We are implementing major infrastructure, industrial, agrarian, energy and investment projects.

We have been collaborating closely to stop the spread of the COVID-19 infection and to overcome its impacts since the start of the pandemic. When our Chinese friends identified the problem at Wuhan, they collaborated closely and effectively with us to help repatriate Russian citizens. We are working together to provide humanitarian assistance to each other. There are such examples on both sides. We are working on the vaccines at present. I have no doubt that we will succeed.

We are cooperating within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS. The People's Republic of China and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) have signed a cooperation agreement. We are aligning integration within the EAEU and China's Belt and Road Initiative. Last December, we signed a protocol on extending the agreement on notification of the launch of ballistic missiles and space carrier rockets for another 10 years. Also in December 2020, the Chinese Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted the second joint patrol mission over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea. This is evidence of the trust-based and forward-looking nature of Russian-Chinese relations and our mutual commitment to maintaining stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Some of our other colleagues, for example, the United States, have been trying to build up tension by conducting military activities that are openly spearheaded against China and are aimed at isolating Russia, as well as within the framework of practical US plans to deploy the components of the US ballistic missile defence system in Asia Pacific. These components have the capacity to reach the territory of both China and Russia.

A lot more can be said about Russian-Chinese cooperation. It is ongoing in a wide range of spheres, in fact, in nearly all spheres of human and state endeavour. I would like to mention our close coordination at the UN on many practical matters. It is based on Russia's and China's commitment to protecting international law and preventing the erosion of universal structures and the replacement of the UN with extraneous formats and partnerships, which Western countries are using to formulate rules suiting their own purposes and subsequently force them on the rest of the world. Russia and China firmly stand for protecting the achievements set out in the UN Charter, which are based on the principles of equality, respect for the sovereignty of states, non-interference in their internal affairs and a peaceful settlement of disputes.

This year we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Russian-Chinese Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation. We have huge plans for celebrating this memorable occasion.


Question: You spoke about the strategic partnership and great relationship between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin. How do you see the evolution of India-Russia ties in the changing geopolitics, particularly in the context of the threat of sanctions from some countries on India-Russia defence trade, including the S-400 missile system?

Sergey Lavrov: The partnership between Russia and India is called slightly differently. You called it a strategic partnership. This was the original title. Some years later, the Indian side proposed to call it a privileged strategic partnership. And a few years ago, when Prime Minister Modi became the head of the Indian government, we changed it to a specially privileged strategic partnership.

I believe there is room for further improvement, but the current terminology indicates a special kind of relationship. India is our very close, very strategic and very privileged partner. Take the economy, take innovations, high technology or military and technical cooperation, India is one of our closest partners in all these areas. We have close political coordination in the United Nations and within BRICS. We did a lot to make sure that India and Pakistan join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation where, I think, we now have a configuration which is very representative, to promote constructive, positive and stabilising ideas both for the Eurasian region and, in broader terms, for the Asia-Pacific.

We discussed with our Indian friends, at the level of the president and the prime minister, at the level of ministers, experts and consultants, we discussed, in a very open way, both practical things and conceptual issues, including issues emanating from the new concept which is called the Indo-Pacific Strategy. We do not believe that this is just a terminological change. Because if you take it literally from the geographical point of view, then "Indo" means the entire Indian Ocean, all littoral states of the Indian Ocean. But East Africa, we were told, is not included in the Indo-Pacific Strategy. The Persian Gulf, which is part of the Indian Ocean, is not included. What is included? As the American sponsors of this concept say, the US, Australia, Japan and India, which is the backbone of, as US State Secretary Mike Pompeo recently said, the free and open Indo-Pacific Region. We have reasons to believe that when the Australians, the Japanese and the Americans promote this format and, well, they almost openly say that this is important to ensure stability in the South China Sea and this is important to contain China. We discussed this with my good friend, Foreign Minister of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and our Indian colleagues fully understand that some countries would like to use the Indo-Pacific Strategy in a manner that is not inclusive and that is confrontational. ASEAN, by the way, feels the same way. They are concerned that this aggressive promotion of the Indo-Pacific concept will undermine the central role of ASEAN in the Indo-Pacific Region, the East Asian Summits (EAS) and other formats, the center of which has been ASEAN for many years.

I know that in India this issue is very actively discussed. And I know that India is not going to move this Indo-Pacific cooperation in a way that would be not positive and not constructive. I say so in much detail because some of my previous statements on this issue have been widely discussed in the Indian media which I belieive is not very friendly towards the Indian government, but we don't want any misunderstanding with our friends, the Indian people: we are friends with India. We are doing our utmost to make sure that India and China, our two great friends and brothers, live in peace with one another.

This is our policy which we promote not only in the context of the SCO or BRICS. We have a special trilateral format, a "troika" or RIC – Russia, India and China. It was established in the late 1990s, and it is still functioning. The last meeting at the level of ministers took place in Moscow in September 2020. We adopted a joint communiqué recognising the role of the three countries in promoting peace, stability and security in Asia and the world and confirming the cooperation between our countries.

I am glad that, besides the political dialogue between the three countries, we have plenty of formats that involve people-to-people contacts, including academic formats, youth formats and many others. We all are wise enough to see that if a strategy is indeed intended to be not inclusive but rather divisive, then the wisdom of our countries will certainly prevail. And in no way will our closest cooperation and partnership with India be affected. The most sincere and honest dialogue, even on the issues where we do not one hundred percent see eye to eye, is the key to the further development of our partnership.

World of Work
RDIF, Brazil's Uniao Quimica to Invite BRICS to Create Task Force to Combat COVID-19 (РФПИ и бразильский Uniao Quimica приглашают БРИКС создать рабочую группу по борьбе с COVID-19) / Russia, January, 2021
Keywords: covid-19, cooperation

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Brazilian pharmaceutical company Uniao Quimica will invite all BRICS countries to create a task force to combat COVID-19 and collaborate on vaccines, according to the Sputnik V vaccine's Twitter account.

"Russia's RDIF and Brazil's União Quimica will propose to all BRICS nations to create a task force to fight COVID-19 and to cooperate on vaccines," the statement says.

Uniao Quimica began production of Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V in Brazil in January, with an emergencyuse application due this week.

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