Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 25.2023
2023.06.19 — 2023.06.25
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Ramaphosa to make announcement on Putin's visit (Рамафоса сделает заявление о визите Путина) / South Africa, June, 2023
Keywords: summit, political_issues, Cyril_Ramaphosa, Vladimir_Putin
South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to make an announcement on whether Russian leader Vladimir Putin will visit South Africa during the BRICS summit in August.

According to Ramaphosa, he has noticed that there is a great deal of impatience around the issue of Putin, but he was attending to it.

Ramaphosa told the ANC Western Cape provincial conference on Sunday that he was seized with the issue of Putin.

He appointed his deputy, Paul Mashile, a few months ago, to head an inter-ministerial committee on Putin's visit.

Ramaphosa met with Putin two weeks ago during his peace mission with other African leaders.
The leaders from Senegal, Comoros, Zambia, Egypt, Congo-Brazzaville and Uganda had formed part of the peace mission to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.

They met with both Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and Putin.

Ramaphosa and Putin, said after the meeting with the African leaders, they will continue with the discussions in St Petersburg in August during the Russia-Africa summit.

Addressing the provincial conference in the Western Cape on Sunday Ramaphosa said he was handling the issue of Putin.

He said the BRICS summit will go ahead in August as planned.

"We will hold the BRICS summit in August. Yes, that BRICS summit is going to take place, it is going to go on. We will be outlining precisely how that summit will be held. There is a great deal of impatience. Is so and so coming?. Is so and so not coming? I have often said we will make that announcement. People are very impatient. We will address that question," said Ramaphosa.
                BRICS+ should tread carefully with possible NATO-aligned 'Trojan horses' (БРИКС+ следует действовать осторожно с возможными связанными с НАТО «троянскими конями») / Russia, June, 2023
                Keywords: brics+, political_issues

                Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst

                BRICS+ is by far the fastest-growing geopolitical format of our time. With approximately 30 countries lining up to join, BRICS+ will soon become the world's largest international organization besides the UN. However, no matter how good this is for the world and the organization itself, BRICS+ needs to be careful about possible NATO/US-aligned 'Trojan horses' that might undermine it in the long term. There are several examples of this, France being the latest, with President Emmanuel Macron expressing the desire to attend the upcoming BRICS summit in South Africa.

                It seems that the French president aims to become the first Western leader to be invited to such an event, something that could push his geopolitical reach far beyond the influence of any of his NATO counterparts. Since this is the first time a Western leader expressed a desire to attend a BRICS+ summit, many were skeptical about the veracity of such reports, so many media outlets saw this information as not more than mere speculation. However, after French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna confirmed it, there's no doubt that Macron is actually trying to arrange his attendance at the summit.

                "Having a dialogue is always positive, even when we don't 100% agree on everything," she stated on June 19, during a joint press conference with Naledi Pandor, her South African counterpart.

                Judging by the reaction of major media outlets in China, Beijing sees this initiative as a net positive. This is further reinforced by the writing of the Beijing-based Global Times, which sees Macron's intentions as "bold but reasonable", and China Daily, which also believes that the French president's interest in the summit should be viewed from a "positive perspective". The latter sees "the French desire for strategic autonomy" as something that "should be valued and encouraged", because "Macron is by no means a proxy of Washington DC, and he should be welcomed to the gathering".

                The Global Times was much more careful in its assessment of Macron's apparent tilt, although it kept an overall positive overtone. On the other hand, other key BRICS members, particularly Russia, showed a lot more skeptical attitude. And rightfully so. Western leaders have demonstrated that they're not to be trusted due to their tendency to unilaterally abandon existing international agreements or even use them to "buy time" for their vassals and satellite states. And while France may seek "strategic independence", its own previous leader François Hollande openly admitted that he intentionally betrayed Russia's trust to "buy time" for Kiev.

                Paris certainly has a history of opposing the largely unquestionable Anglo-American dominance in the political West. However, the most prominent (or perhaps even the only) example of the actual implementation of such opposition happened under Charles de Gaulle back in the 1960s. And while Macron does have a tendency to compare himself to "le général" (for obvious (geo)political reasons), de Gaulle made numerous concrete moves to regain France's strategic independence. However, this geopolitical approach subsided soon after he left office and gradually disappeared altogether in the following decades.

                Still, France is certainly not the only possible "Trojan horse" within the ranks of the expanded BRICS+ format. Last year, Indonesia was one of the dozens of countries that expressed interest in joining the organization. However, Jakarta previously canceled the acquisition of Russian Su-35 fighter jets, giving in to Washington DC's unrelenting pressure and blackmail. Worse yet, Indonesia even decided to buy the American F-15EX, a conceptually somewhat similar, yet exponentially more expensive fighter jet, the capabilities of which are highly questionable in comparison to the now legendary "Super Flanker".

                Jakarta's strategic independence can only be described as extremely dubious after it made such a decision, as even the US itself is not sending the F-15EX, but the more advanced F-22 "Raptors" to counter the deployment of the Su-35 in the Middle East and elsewhere. Worse yet, Indonesia seems to be slowly tilting towards the US "China containment" strategy, as evidenced by the first-ever deployment of nuclear-capable B-52H "Stratofortress" strategic bombers to its island of Sumatra. The USAF aircraft landed there on June 19, although they've been permanently stationed at the Australian Tindal Air Base in the northern part of Australia.

                Apart from Paris and Jakarta, Ankara might be the most challenging future member of the BRICS+ format, particularly in a post-Erdogan era. Although Turkey's geopolitical ambitions far exceed its power, they still span from Africa's Libya to China's westernmost province of Xinjiang. Ankara's not only Neo-Ottoman, but also Neo-Seljuk ambitions, mixed with an attempt to harness the power of the so-called "political Islam" wherever that's (or was) possible, have been undermining the emergence of Greater Eurasia for over a decade. Such expansionism started with the truly unprovoked and brutal NATO invasions of Libya and Syria, ever so euphemistically dubbed "civil wars" in the so-called "free press".

                Despite tense relations between Erdogan and Washington DC, Turkey continues to play a vital role in US/NATO aggression against the Middle East. Its Neo-Ottomanism is also augmented by the decades-old pan-Turkic efforts to establish a bloc of its own. The political West has been supporting such policies since long before the Soviet dismantlement, as long as Turkey firmly remains a NATO member. This might extend the belligerent alliance's shadow not only to Southern Caucasus, but (even more disturbingly) to Central Asia as well, igniting additional hotspots in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan (tried in late 2021/early 2022) and could even spill over to China's Xinjiang province.

                It's only logical and expected that the political West will try to undermine and destabilize the emergence of a more firmly established multipolar world. Support for countries on the fringes of Greater Eurasia is geopolitically convenient, as it contributes to the policy of so-called "strategic containment". Historically, the military elites in both Turkey and Indonesia have been under a relatively firm foothold of the Pentagon, giving the US strong leverage in both countries, while having France as a supposedly "strategically independent" Western player in the BRICS+ camp can certainly be more useful than not having anyone.

                              Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to media questions following the CSTO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting, Minsk, June 20, 2023 (Выступление Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова и ответы на вопросы СМИ по итогам заседания СМИД ОДКБ, Минск, 20 июня 2023 г.) / Russia, June, 2023
                              Keywords: mofa, sergey_lavrov, speech


                              We finished the meeting of the CSTO Council of Foreign Ministers chaired by Foreign Minister of the Republic of Belarus Sergey Aleinik. The list of documents read out by the CSTO Secretary General includes a number of agreements and protocols on improving the performance of the secretariat and the CSTO charter bodies and enhancing their coordination in resolving a number of current administrative and budget issues.

                              From the documents on the different political aspects of the current situation, I would like to mention the statement on enhancing security in the CSTO region in the context of the situation in Afghanistan. It reflects the joint approaches by our countries and all of our allies to ensuring our interests in a situation where Afghanistan was left in deplorable condition after the NATO coalition deserted it. Manifestations of terrorism and drug trafficking are flourishing in this country, and the reasons behind this have not been eliminated. All this is directly affecting the lawful interests of our states. Our statement establishes goals to use the CSTO working group and to develop coordination with other associations, including the SCO, which also has a special mechanism for considering the threats and risks emanating from the territory of Afghanistan.

                              Second, the statement emphasises the common approaches of our countries in UN efforts to review specific proposals aimed at preventing an arms race in outer space. This is a long-standing Russian initiative. We are promoting it at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva as well. We have submitted a relevant draft treaty together with our Chinese partners. In parallel with the Disarmament Conference, the UN is starting discussions this year on how to make space safe and prevent threats from space from affecting the security of any country.

                              I think the meeting was useful. We discussed in detail the development of the geopolitical situation in our region and Eurasia as a whole. Our views are similar on a global plane. We all want the CSTO to become a supporting pillar in the multipolar world order that is now taking shape. We want the CSTO to become stronger and more successful, and we mapped out a number of practical steps to this end.

                              Question: How do you see the future of the CSTO in the context of today's talks? Does the organisation have any divisions that could prove useful during military-political collaboration with other regional organisations, including the SCO and BRICS? Is it time for us to study the possibility of establishing a military-political bloc that can counterbalance NATO?

                              Sergey Lavrov: The SCO and BRICS are not military organisations. The SCO, for one, was primarily established for accomplishing the security objectives of its member countries. Later, the agenda expanded to include economic, cultural, humanitarian and investment cooperation issues, as well as political issues, in the context of the security objectives.

                              BRICS has no military dimension; however, the CSTO and other fraternal and other agencies continue to expand their cooperation. We maintain contacts with the CIS and the SCO. This promotes a division of labour for maintaining stability on our common Eurasian continent.

                              As far as NATO is concerned, we recalled today that, many years ago, the CSTO suggested establishing working contacts between the Secretariat and NATO to build trust, strengthen mutual understanding and find solutions to complicated problems before they become aggravated and start posing risks for CSTO and NATO members. NATO arrogantly declined after receiving several proposals, including official letters on this issue. This proves once again that the alliance is bent on dominating and applying its own rules alone that run counter to international law.

                              I do not think we should turn the CSTO into a confrontational bloc against anyone. The organisation is developing in line with the legitimate security interests of its member states. The CSTO does not claim the right to play a leading role on the Eurasian continent. This is what NATO is doing. A Chinese journalist recently asked NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg why NATO had big ideas about the Asian region. He tried to convince his audience that the alliance remained committed to the Euro-Atlantic region, and that it had no other intentions. At the same time, he noted that NATO could not just sit and watch as China inched closer to the North Atlantic alliance. This reminds one of a Soviet-era joke noting that the Soviet Union is located too close to US military bases. Jens Stoltenberg continued to assert that NATO would facilitate security interests, including risks and threats emanating from the Indo-Pacific region. Everyone already knows that by making such statements, the alliance is confirming its global ambitions and claiming the right to determine the rules for all regions. This concerns the European part of our continent and eastern Eurasia, primarily NATO's provocations with regard to China, encouraging the creation of military blocs, such as AUKUS and expanding NATO's infrastructure and presence in this region. This is a dangerous game.

                              Sooner or later NATO will have to realise that this approach has no future, that it leads to a dead-end. They will have to accept reality, specifically, the emergence of a multipolar world order where there will be no "commanders" or overlords unilaterally deciding others' destinies.

                              Question: Armenia and Azerbaijan are not succeeding in reaching a peace settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh. At the same time, we see Western countries involved in mediation in parallel with Russia. Both countries' foreign ministers met in Washington and talks are being planned under EU aegis. What is Moscow's assessment of the West's ambition to settle the conflict given that Armenia is Russia's CSTO ally?

                              Sergey Lavrov: We laid the groundwork for normalising relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan in November 2020, when President of Russia Vladimir Putin's personal intervention led to the signing of the first trilateral statement on the principles of a final settlement. Later, several other top-level statements (1, 2, 3) were adopted on various aspects of the efforts needed to fully normalise the situation. Among other things, this includes the unblocking of transport and economic connections between Armenia and Azerbaijan and in the South Caucasus as a whole.

                              We are not against other international parties trying their hand at mediation. The most important thing is that this mediation should pursue the goal of enabling the agreements that reflect a balance of interests between the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples and states.

                              We see in what is being done by the United States and the European Union their desire to sneak into the region, push back the Russian Federation's legitimate interests, and assert themselves as forces that will play a well-nigh decisive role. It reflects the West's striving (as I explained in my previous answer) to expand to regions located far from NATO and EU borders. This has little in common with a sincere desire to assist in stabilising the situation. I hope that our partners in Yerevan and Azerbaijan understand this. At any rate, we openly discuss the current developments with them.

                              Reaching an overall agreement is only possible via the full implementation of the trilateral agreements, signed by the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan and the prime minister of Armenia.

                              Question: Jens Stoltenberg said, at a NATO meeting, that the alliance was against putting a freeze on the Ukraine conflict and against Russia's peace plan. At the upcoming NATO summit, they will talk about giving Kiev even more weapons. Does this mean that the conflict is being dragged out artificially? What will our next moves be, given that on the sidelines they even talk about possibly sending nuclear weapons?

                              Sergey Lavrov: If Mr Stoltenberg again says on behalf of NATO that they are against freezing the conflict in Ukraine, this means that they want to fight. So let them fight. We are ready for that. We realised NATO's true goals in Ukraine some time ago as their plans took shape over the years that followed the coup. Today, NATO is attempting to implement them.

                              We can see that gradually at least some politicians, political scientists and experts in the West are "sobering up" and coming to realise the true causes of the current state of affairs and what is really happening on the ground.

                              This is their choice. They may claim they are not waging a war against Russia, but in fact they are doing precisely that, given their admission that the Ukrainian crisis would have been defused a long time ago, were it not for them rushing weapons to the Ukrainian regime, providing intelligence and satellite data, and sending targeting directions. Actually, this is a confession to the effect that they are directly involved in the hybrid and hot war declared on Russia.

                              Question: What is the significance of Antony Blinken's visit to the PRC and the change in US rhetoric towards China?

                              Sergey Lavrov: This question concerns bilateral relations between the United States and the PRC. Our Chinese friends have repeatedly stated their assessments and they confirmed them during Secretary of State Blinken's visit.

                              We regard this as the reality that reflects Washington's China policy on the one hand. On the other, there is the principled policy of China opposing attempts to undermine its legitimate interests, including in the region directly adjacent to China.

                              Question: The Russian Federation is helping the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics and demonstrating its confident strength and knowledge of the law. All citizens of Russia want to know when the special military operation will end?

                              Sergey Lavrov: I can't agree that the Russian Federation is helping the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics. They are part of our state, as are the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. As an inalienable territory of Russia, whose residents voted in their respective referendums to join this country (which is reflected in the Constitution of the Russian Federation), they enjoy all the rights of constituent entities of Russia. President of Russia Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, and the Government discuss plans to restore their economy and infrastructure virtually in real time and on a daily basis. These plans will be implemented.

                              Where the prospects for the special military operation are concerned, all its goals will be achieved. I can draw your attention to President Vladimir Putin's detailed discourse on this topic at his meeting with war correspondents and at the SPIEF Plenary Session.

                                            Investment and Finance
                                            Investment and finance in BRICS
                                            UAE closes in on BRICS as Emirati defense firm signs deal with Brazilian navy (ОАЭ приближаются к БРИКС, поскольку оборонная фирма Эмиратов подписывает соглашение с бразильским флотом) / UAE, June, 2023
                                            Keywords: national_security, concluded_agreements

                                            UAE defense technology firm EDGE announced a partnership with the Brazilian Navy on 20 June to co-invest in developing long-range anti-ship missiles and to provide Brasilia with anti-jamming technology.

                                            The Emirati Minister of State for international cooperation, Saleh Ahmad Alsuwaidi, took part in the signing ceremony in Brasilia on Tuesday alongside other UAE and Brazilian officials.

                                            This deal comes two months after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited Abu Dhabi, where he met with his Emirati counterpart Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) and signed $2.53 billion in deals on education, the environment, energy, and more.

                                            Brazil is the top trading partner of the UAE in Latin America. According to Emirati media, bilateral trade between the two totaled over $4 billion in 2022, a spike of 32 percent from the year before.

                                            The new defense deal also marks another step forward for the UAE in strengthening bonds with BRICS member states.

                                            Over the past year, Abu Dhabi has boosted ties with the other four members of BRICS – Russia, India, China, and South Africa – while in 2021, the country joined BRICS's New Development Bank.

                                            Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed earlier this month took part in a BRICS ministerial meeting in South Africa, where he met with bloc officials ahead of a crucial August summit where the country hopes to be admitted into the bloc along with several other West Asian nations.

                                            BRICS makes up 40 percent of the global population and nearly a third of the world's economy. In recent months, BRICS outpaced the gross domestic product (GDP) of the US-led G7 in terms of purchasing power parity.

                                            Presidents from BRICS member states are set to discuss the group's expansion during the upcoming summit, where they are also expected to launch a new currency to rival US dollar hegemony.

                                            On 17 June, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that expanding BRICS "will benefit the multipolar foundations of the bloc that evolved naturally, objectively."

                                                          World of Work
                                                          SOCIAL POLICY, TRADE UNIONS, ACTIONS
                                                          BRICS Games expected to be held in Russian city of Kazan in June 2024 (Ожидается, что Игры БРИКС пройдут в Казани в июне 2024 года.) / Russia, June, 2023
                                                          Keywords: social_issues

                                                          Earlier in the day, Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin took part in a meeting of sports ministers from BRICS countries in South Africa

                                                          MOSCOW, June 22. /TASS/. The BRICS Games are expected to be held in the Russian city of Kazan in June 2024, Russia's Sports Ministry announced on Thursday.

                                                          Earlier in the day, Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin took part in a meeting of sports ministers from BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in South Africa.

                                                          "The role of BRICS in contributing to resolving global issues, including in the field of sports, is increasing in the current situation. Our association remains an example of true multilateralism and mutual respect. We consistently call for comprehensively strengthening friendly sporting ties with BRICS countries based on the principles of equality, non-discrimination, mutual respect and equal admission of athletes to competitions. Boosting our cooperation within BRICS and developing new platforms for international sporting events is more important now than ever before," Matytsin pointed out.

                                                          The Russian sports minister supported the South African delegation's initiative to draw up a BRICS Sports Charter in order to ensure successful cooperation in the field of sports. "The basic principles for the development of sports within the association will be enshrined in the BRICS Sports Charter. There are broad prospects for cooperation in terms of certain sports. In this regard, we suggest considering the possibility of establishing BRICS championships and professional sports leagues," Matytsin noted.

                                                          In mid-May, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered that the government submit proposals on organizing and holding the BRICS Games in 2024.

                                                                        Valdai Club to Discuss BRICS and the New World Order (Клуб «Валдай» обсудит БРИКС и новый мировой порядок) / Russia, June, 2023
                                                                        Keywords: social_issues, expert_opinion

                                                                        On June 29 at 12:00 Moscow time (GMT+3), the Valdai Club will host an expert discussion, titled "BRICS and the Political Economy of the New World Order."

                                                                        Under the stress experienced by the traditional institutions of globalisation and global governance, the BRICS association (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) is becoming the most important centre for the formation of a positive agenda on a global scale. The military-political conflict between Russia and the West, as well as the growing confrontation between the United States and China, has led to an increased threat of a split in the world and the destruction of common interconnectedness, spelling an end for the preservation of free trade and, in general, the ability of mankind to respond to its most important security and development challenges in unison.

                                                                        The task of BRICS now is not just to harmonise the basic interests of the member countries on the central issues of international governance and development, but to create initiatives and ideas that the widest range of states in the world could join. In part, this may be the result of a hypothetical formal expansion of the BRICS membership, and, to a large extent, the influence of the group and interested states on the agenda of international organisations, as well as the creation of new cross-border projects and cooperation programmes in various fields. This could serve as the basis of a new type of global political and economic structure based on the equality of participants and their equal benefit.

                                                                        The central question that arises is the following: What contribution can the BRICS make to maintain global stability and solve the main tasks facing all countries of the world? Participants in the discussion will try to answer these and other questions.


                                                                        • Nivedita Das Kundu, Senior Fellow, University of York, Academic Director of Liaison College
                                                                        • Pavel Knyazev, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Sous-Sherpa of Russia to BRICS
                                                                        • Philani Mthembu, Executive Director at the Institute for Global Dialogue, South Africa
                                                                        • Victoria Panova, HSE Vice-Rector for International Relations
                                                                        • Feng Shaolei, Dean and Professor, School of International and Regional Studies, East China Normal University

                                                                        Working languages: Russian, English.

                                                                                      Made on