Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 45.2023
2023.11.06 — 2023.11.12
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's video address at the 5th International Municipal BRICS+ Forum, November 10, 2023 (Видеообращение Министра иностранных дел С.В.Лаврова на V Международном муниципальном форуме БРИКС+, 10 ноября 2023 г.) / Russia, November, 2023
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, speech

Greetings to the organisers and participants of the 5th International Municipal BRICS+ Forum.

In recent years, this format has gained a reputation as a popular platform for building cooperation between regional and municipal officials, for promoting international links and establishing mutually beneficial contacts between the business communities of the dynamically developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The topic of this year's forum, related to the global transformation at the nexus of the past and the future, sounds quite relevant. We all are witnessing tectonic shifts on the international stage as a more just multi-polar world order is taking shape before our eyes. As one of its distinctive features, a growing number of countries in the Global South and East are striving to strengthen their sovereignty and identity, and to take an independent course in foreign policy while drawing upon inherent national interests.

A high surge in interest in BRICS came as a natural result of these approaches, leading to the historic decision to invite six new members to the organisation starting January 1, 2024. Quite a few countries wish to join BRICS in the future or intend to develop targeted cooperation with the organisation through dialogue. The Russian Federation is taking the BRICS Chairmanship next year. We are committed to productive and active work to reinforce our strategic partnership across all fields.


This event offers quite a busy agenda. You will be discussing a broad range of issues, including the prospects for investment cooperation, developing industrial production, science and new technology, environmental issues, sustainable development of territories, tourism and digitisation.

I am certain that as always, forum participants will enjoy a friendly and businesslike atmosphere, establish useful contacts and initiate promising joint projects. The forum's cultural programme will be a good opportunity for our guests to learn about the rich cultural and historical heritage of St Petersburg, the northern capital of Russia.

I wish you productive discussions.

                Investment and Finance
                Investment and finance in BRICS
                A World Made of BRICS (Мир, созданный БРИКС) / USA, November, 2023
                Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges

                In 2001, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—the emerging-markets group known as the BRICS—accounted for 19% of global gross domestic product in purchasing power parity terms. Today, including countries set to join the bloc, the share is 36%. We see this rising to 45% by 2040, more than double the weight of the Group of Seven major advanced economies.

                The rapid rise of the BRICS is transforming the global economy. Members are, in general, less democratic and free-market than advanced economies, and growing economic heft could bring a profound shift in influence. Yet the bloc lacks cohesion, and that will stand in the way of ambitious objectives for some in the group—such as challenging the dominant role of the dollar.

                Growth Math to Political Project

                The BRICS started as a simple exercise. Jim O'Neill, then Goldman Sachs' chief economist, set out two criteria for membership: Countries had to have a large economy already and be set to grow fast. Brazil, Russia, India and China stood out. An additional bonus—the first letter of their names formed a catchy acronym.

                The idea proved wildly successful. The original BRIC countries delivered stellar growth in the first decade of this century. In an unusual example of geopolitics taking its lead from a Wall Street bank's research note, they joined forces to form a bloc, which South Africa joined in 2010.

                In August this year, the BRICS invited six more countries to join: Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. There's no new acronym to be found—the group will likely be renamed BRICS+. The joiners also stretch O'Neill's original membership criteria; other more viable candidates remain outside the bloc.

                Indonesia, for example, so far isn't a part of the BRICS+ party, but it's larger than Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and set to outgrow two of the three. Both Nigeria and Thailand outperform Iran on both of O'Neill's benchmarks. Mexico and Turkey are both ahead of Argentina. Ditto for Bangladesh compared with Ethiopia.

                The point is clear. The BRICS expansion has less to do with economics and more with politics. For the drivers of the expansion, it's about challenging the dominance of the US, dethroning the dollar as the world's primary currency, and building alternative institutions to the Washington-centric International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

                First, the expanded BRICS are already larger than the Group of Seven, which comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US. In 2022 the bloc accounted for 36% of the global economy, versus 30% for the advanced economy group. Our forecasts suggest an expanding workforce and ample room for technological catch-up will boost the BRICS+ share to 45% by 2040, compared with 21% for G-7 economies. In effect, BRICS+ and the G-7 will have swapped places in relative size between 2001 and 2040. Economic heft means political influence.

                Second, the bloc will contain some of the world's largest oil exporters (Saudi Arabia, Russia, UAE and Iran) and some of its biggest importers (China and India). If it succeeds in shifting some settlement of oil transactions toward other currencies, that could have a knock-on effect on the share of the dollar in international trade and global foreign exchange reserves.

                Third, denting the dominance of the US currency is clearly one of the ambitions of the BRICS+ . China has long sought to boost the yuan's role in global trade. Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called on the bloc to come up with an alternative to the dollar. Russia sees an economic realignment toward China and away from Europe as the only rational option as it continues its war in Ukraine. Under sanctions, it's already selling oil to China in yuan.

                Sample includes emerging-market and developing countries with current GDPs of at least 0.1% of the global total or that have expressed interest in joining. X-axis is on a logarithmic scale.

                Yes, BRICS+ is large and growing, but China's debt problem and real estate correction mean one of the group's main drivers is fading. The rise of the bloc this century has been largely a story of Beijing's incredible growth—averaging 9% a year from 2000-2019. That pace is set to fall to 4.5% in the 2020s, 3% in the 2030s and 2% in the 2040s. India might pick up some slack, but neither its economic rise nor its political ambition is likely to match China's.

                Yes, BRICS brings oil exporters and importers to the same table, but some are committed to petrodollars. Producers Saudi Arabia and the UAE have currency pegs to the greenback and need dollar reserves to back them. Even without a peg, most countries—unless they're under sanctions, like Iran or Russia—prefer payments in dollars as the most widely acceptable medium of exchange for international trade.

                Within BRICS, there's a reluctance to promote a single alternative. Russia doesn't want to get rupees from India in exchange for its oil, because of its aversion to accumulating savings in India. How about India paying Russia in Chinese yuan? New Delhi's geopolitical competition with Beijing means the former wouldn't want to promote the yuan in global trade.

                Finally, the expanded bloc lacks consensus and cohesion. India has a recurrent border dispute with China. Tensions could boil over as India rises and China slows. Saudi Arabia and Iran have long engaged in proxy wars, reflecting a deep divide that recently restored diplomatic ties will struggle to bridge. New Delhi and Riyadh—together with the UAE—signed a memorandum of understanding with the US and Europe to establish an economic corridor that competes with China's "Belt and Road" initiative.

                Shifting Center of Gravity

                How about alternative institutions to the IMF and the World Bank? Again, this will likely remain more of an aspiration than reality. The New Development Bank—the BRICS' answer to the World Bank—has disbursed few funds. The BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement—the supposed competitor to the IMF—is small and of limited use.

                The idea of a single BRICS currency, with unified monetary policy, looks especially unlikely today. Brazil is cutting interest rates, Russia is raising them aggressively, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia mimic whatever the US Federal Reserve does. If the euro area is struggling with a "one size fits all" currency and monetary policy, the BRICS wouldn't be able to find that one size to begin with.

                That's not to say the incredible rise of BRICS will be without consequences for the global economy. The center of gravity will shift toward the East and the South, where governments score low marks on representation and intervene more heavily in markets compared with the West.

                Of the BRICS+ countries, only the political systems of Argentina, Brazil and South Africa earned a top "free" score from Freedom House last year. India was rated "partly free," while China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were "not free." The share of global GDP from countries classified as "partly free" or "not free" has already increased from 24% in 1990 to 49% in 2022. By 2040 our forecasts suggest it will have risen to 62%.

                Things look even bleaker for advocates of unfettered markets. The Heritage Foundation, an American conservative think tank, rates almost all the BRICS+ economies as "mostly unfree" or worse. The G-7 economies are rated "mostly free" or "moderately free." The share of global GDP from economies Heritage classifies as "mostly unfree" or "repressed" has already risen from 27% in 1995 to 44% in 2022. By 2040 our forecasts suggest it will have risen to 56%.

                The BRICS will change the world, but perhaps more because of their rising share of GDP and divergent political and economic systems than through the realization of policymakers' grand plans.

                — With assistance from Gerard DiPippo
                              World of Work
                              SOCIAL POLICY, TRADE UNIONS, ACTIONS
                              Brazil's ambassador to Russia expresses interest in BRICS Games (Посол Бразилии в России выразил интерес к Играм БРИКС) / Russia, November, 2023
                              Keywords: social_issues, cooperation

                              MOSCOW, November 7. /TASS/. Brazil is interested in taking part in the BRICS Games, Brazil's Ambassador to Russia Rodrigo de Lima Baena Soares told TASS.

                              "Russia back in early January initiated various events in the fields of politics, culture, economy. It is interesting for us to participate in many such events. And I think our participation in the BRICS Games is possible," Soares said.

                              The 2023 BRICS Games were held in Durban, South Africa from October 18 to 21. The Russian national team won the most medals, securing 35 gold, 12 silver and 12 bronze medals.

                              In 2024, the competition will be hosted by Russia for the first time, it will be held from June 12 to 23 in Kazan. On September 29, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a decree on the formation of the Organizing Committee for the preparation and holding of the BRICS 2024 Games. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko and Russian Presidential Aide Igor Levitin were appointed co-chairmen of the committee.

                                            Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and answers to participants' questions at the federal educational marathon "Knowledge. First", Moscow, November 6, 2023 (Выступление Министра иностранных дел С.В.Лаврова и ответы на вопросы участников федерального образовательного марафона «Знания. Прежде всего», Москва, 6 ноября 2023 г.) / Russia, November, 2023
                                            Keywords: sergey_lavrov, speech

                                            Good afternoon,

                                            Thank you for inviting me to your event this time again. This is a valuable format which, I hope, helps young people better understand foreign policy. It also helps us gain an insight into the aspirations and sentiments of the younger generation. I can tell you that we take many of them into consideration as we shape our foreign policy.

                                            I'm not going to take your time discussing the current developments in international politics. Indeed, it has entered a new phase and is undergoing tectonic shifts that are driven by the ongoing formation of a multipolar international order. Clearly, its outline remains blurred; however, it is equally clear that the new global architecture will not be ruled by a single hegemon, but will be genuinely democratic and fair.

                                            The polycentricity or multipolarity that is taking shape right before our eyes is truly inclusive in its nature. New global decision-making centres are emerging and strengthening their positions in Eurasia, the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. That includes countries such as Russia, China, and India and associations like BRICS and the SCO. All of them demonstrate their independence, prioritise their own interests and state sovereignty, and refuse to live under anyone's diktat, not just in words but in deeds. On the contrary, they strive to rely on their own traditions, culture, and way of life and advocate the democratisation of relations between countries and a fairer distribution of global goods among all members of the international community.

                                            President Putin recently said China was the top economy in terms of purchasing power parity, and the BRICS countries' combined GDP (using the same benchmark) exceeds that of the G7. In 2022, despite sanctions and gloomy predictions, Russia has overtaken Germany to become the world's fifth largest economy. The numbers speak for themselves.

                                            The polarity shows itself not only in the economy, but in multilateral diplomacy as well. A prime example of that is BRICS, where countries representing different civilisations, religions, and macro-regions effectively collaborate on mutually beneficial terms across a wide range of fields from politics and security to the economy, finance, culture, and sports. Such cooperation relies on equality, mutual respect, and a balance of interests.

                                            It's not surprising to see many countries seeking to establish ties with BRICS. The most recent summit in South Africa in August witnessed a historic expansion. Starting from January 1, 2024, BRICS will grow to include six more countries: Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

                                            Similar processes are underway within the SCO. There too, there is no place for mentorship, leaders or followers, or disciples and teachers. The SCO is also expanding, with many nations showing an interest in joining this association.

                                            Today, BRICS and the SCO are the key pillars of the emerging multipolar international order. Clearly, the collective West led by the United States is trying to reverse these objective developments. They are accustomed to solving their own issues at the expense of others and exploiting foreign resources, or, as President Vladimir Putin said, "collecting hegemon's rent." In defiance of objective processes, they continue to harbour the hope of ruling the world and dictating to other nations how to go about their relations with other countries and rudely interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign states. In fact, they are trying to strip the global majority of the right to follow its own paths of development.

                                            The methods employed by the United States and its satellites are widely known and include the attempts to sow chaos in various regions of the world, to create strife between countries and peoples, and to exacerbate interethnic and interreligious differences. We can see how the Anglo-Saxons are pushing the Middle East to the brink of a big war. This approach shows itself in other regions, including Ukraine.

                                            The examples abound, but the outcome remains the same. It's about losing statehood or letting it weaken, as was the case with Iraq and Libya, and as they tried to do in Syria. In fact, even in Ukraine, statehood remains a very much debatable issue. Other outcomes of such policies include a surge in terrorism and extremism, shattered human lives, broken families, and multi-million refugee flows.

                                            Attempts to weaken Russia in order to deprive us of geopolitical identity and toss us to the margins of global politics continue. The deceptive nature of such hopes is obvious to everyone.

                                            Containment policies are also being pursued with regard to China, Iran, and any country capable of competing with the West in various areas. We have no doubt that this destructive policy aimed at reviving Western dominance is doomed.

                                            Multipolarity has become a reality. Many Western politicians, albeit reluctantly, acknowledge this. Clearly, this will not happen overnight but will be a historically long process. Importantly, the new polycentric architecture should be stable and reflect the aspirations of the global community. President Putin addressed this in detail during the Valdai Discussion Club meeting.

                                            I would like to make it clear that this does not mean starting from scratch and erasing everything created by our predecessors. The foundation for building a new world is in place, and it is strong. It is the UN Charter. Most importantly, we must do our best to prevent the devaluation of its principles and, with like-minded countries, ensure adherence to these principles in their entirety and interconnectedness. Without a doubt, we are in favour of adapting the UN itself to today's geopolitical realities. Life is moving forward and this fully applies to reforming the Security Council by addressing the underrepresentation of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

                                            In addition to bringing the UN back to its founding principles as agreed upon by its founders, other multilateral associations, primarily BRICS and the SCO that I mentioned earlier, as well as the Union State of Russia and Belarus, the CSTO, the EAEU, the CIS, ASEAN, the African Union, CELAC, LAS, and the GCC should play their roles in promoting emerging multipolarity.

                                            We see positive developments in Eurasia that are designed to harmonise the potential of various regional initiatives, including the EAEU and China's Belt and Road initiative. All of this helps shape the Greater Eurasian Partnership, as predicted by President Putin back in 2015. We see this partnership as a format that is open to every association and country on our shared continent, without exception.

                                            International isolation, which some said was in store for us, is not reality. We engage with the Global Majority countries, which make up 85 percent of the world's population. People in these countries (the vast majority of them) see Russia as a good friend and a reliable partner, who has repeatedly proved its reliability and has done a lot to build country-to-country relations based on internationally recognised norms of international law.

                                            These norms are built around the UN Charter principle of the sovereign equality of all states, both large and small. We remain open to a pragmatic dialogue with the Western countries, provided they are willing (in practice, not just in word) to consider our interests and interact on the basis of mutual benefit and respect. Sooner or later, they will realise the futility of their anti-Russia course. This question is not for us but for the current generation of leaders, primarily European, who have clearly lost their strategic vision and blindly follow destructive US policies.

                                            Let's move on to the interactive dialogue which is a more productive format.

                                            Question: What are Russia's current objectives as a centre of the emerging multipolar world?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: The objectives were outlined by President Vladimir Putin. I briefly went over them earlier today. They are simple and seek to make the world fair. There's no need to invent anything. It's about the sovereign equality of states, as laid down in the UN Charter, and the implementation of all agreements and Security Council resolutions. This is also part of international law.

                                            The West approaches the principles in the UN Charter selectively. In the case of Crimea, where an open referendum took place and which was attended by hundreds of foreign observers, the West did not recognise the result saying that the Crimea issue should be resolved based on respect for Ukraine's territorial integrity. In the case of Kosovo the territorial integrity principle was ignored. There was no referendum there, and all they did was declare the independence of this Serbian region, saying that the principle of the peoples' right to self-determination was the main rationale for this decision.

                                            Both these principles – the right of peoples to self-determination and respect for territorial integrity – are enshrined in the UN Charter. Since the application of these two key postulates give rise to differences, the General Assembly, in 1970, adopted a special declaration, which cleared this up. It was adopted by consensus. The document is called the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the UN Charter. It unambiguously points out that everyone must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the states whose governments respect the principle of self-determination and represent the entire population living within the borders of a territory in question.

                                            There is no need to convince anyone that the Kiev regime, which was established after the bloody coup in February 2014, did not represent the interests of either the residents of Crimea or the people of eastern Ukraine. When they seized power, the first thing they did was declare the goal of repealing the Ukrainian laws that guaranteed the Russian language its rights. This sparked an immediate reaction from the people in Crimea and Donbass. Such examples abound.

                                            We are talking about the importance of using the UN Charter not as their heart tells them (especially the West's heart, if there is any left to talk about), but in its entirety and interconnectedness.

                                            Question: Russia is a self-sufficient state, but it never refuses to cooperate with other countries. How does it see the line and make agreements and talk without giving up its sovereignty?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: We manage to do that. One can say in all certainty that it was over the past ten years that we have developed the ability to build relations with other states while retaining our sovereignty and not threatening our security, the prospects for Russia's socio-economic development, or the growing wellbeing of our citizens. This happened after the West started imposing its unprecedented sanctions on us. There had always been sanctions, but they became especially acerbated and all-encompassing after the West provoked the coup in Ukraine in its desire to bring in a government with openly neo-Nazi sentiments, which was supposed to eliminate everything Russian and create a direct threat to our country in Ukraine.

                                            Before that, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the establishment of the Russian Federation, we were open to cooperation, first with the West, as we considered it our closest neighbour (China is also a neighbour but the majority of our population lives in the country's European part), the source of technology and the progressive forms of the development of society and international relations. This was a huge disappointment later.

                                            We stood against the West's attempts to bring direct harm to our interests when NATO, despite their promises, five times moved its borders closer to Russia and planned to create military bases in Ukraine, including on the coast of the Sea of Azov. It was then that the West showed its true colours by discarding its agreements, trampling the principles on which it built and convinced others to build globalization when it spoke about honest competition, equal use of the principles of a market economy, that is, all the pillars the West built globalisation on, proving that this is the optimal way for the development of all humankind. All these principles were destroyed by the West in an instant.

                                            We were suspicious at earlier stages, but these events made us understand that we could only rely on ourselves and the partners who proved their negotiability and who would never abandon our agreements to serve their own selfish interests.

                                            Naturally, we are not sinking into autarchy. President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly emphasised that. We do not embrace self-isolation, but we cannot rely on partners who can deceive us anytime when it comes to the key sectors that define our defence capacity and economic development. This has also been expressed repeatedly. Everything you are witnessing now in the work of the Russian Government and the decisions made by President Vladimir Putin related to our development, all of what you see now at the amazing exhibition Russia EXPO shows that we are progressively moving in this direction.

                                            We are keeping the door open to our partners. We have many of them who show their reliability and who do not try to use economic and other relations in their selfish interests.

                                            We are also keeping the door open for the West. But if and when it comes to its senses and sobers up, we will see what they have to offer. Depending on this, we will decide whether we want to accept their proposals and whether they meet our interests, sovereign development or if they are once again a trap for Russia's development prospects.

                                            Question: Now, Russia is protecting its compatriots and preserving history, culture and art. How does this strengthen the sovereignty of the Russian Federation?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: It is not just a question of strengthening sovereignty, although this is an important part of the topic raised.

                                            The sovereignty of a state like Russia, with its centuries-long history, huge contribution to the development of humanity, culture and art, is also seen in foreign countries. This is the extent of our influence, our impact on world development and the preservation of history, an integral part of which is Russian culture and art.

                                            The overwhelming majority of our compatriots work truly in frontline conditions. The attacks on their organisations in the United States, Canada and Western Europe are unprecedented. They are stripped of their rights, forbidden to meet and discuss how they, as citizens of foreign countries, but with Russian roots, want to organise their cultural and everyday life so as not to lose their traditions.

                                            Attacks on Orthodoxy have reached unimaginable proportions. I am not talking about the provocation launched with American assistance by the Patriarch of Constantinople with the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the destruction of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Look at what our onetime Bulgarian "brothers" are doing now even though we consider the Bulgarian people to be a fraternal people. The fact that it has now accepted such rulers is an abnormality that must be corrected in historical terms.

                                            On November 1-2, we held the World Thematic Conference of Compatriots Living Abroad, where they reaffirmed their determination to preserve, protect and promote our culture and achievements in literature, music and art. This is their moral strength. They openly and honestly affirm their right to have access to the heritage of their historical homeland. This, too, is a significant part of our sovereignty.

                                            Question: What event predetermined the creation of Russia as a great state in the international arena?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: On November 4, we marked National Unity Day. Russian President Vladimir Putin said many things on this occasion, as he has during the celebration of other commemorative dates, especially holy Victory Day.

                                            The people's militia of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky in 1612 – this was a turning point for the creation of a state of global significance. Before that there were principalities with feuds and periods of the Tatar-Mongol yoke. But it was in 1612 that our nation was formed as a united nation, where, regardless of social hierarchy, it rose up to fight the Polish invaders. This was a great victory that laid the foundation for many others that strengthened our state and made it so influential and attractive to many countries and peoples.

                                            Question: What difficulties have you encountered in negotiations with representatives of European states this year? Are there many changes compared to the past?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: There were no difficulties because there were no negotiations. We do not seek them. The European states, the United States and Canada have cut off all ties with us.

                                            The only subject discussed one way or another is on issues related to the functioning of our diplomatic missions. They face extreme obstacles in their normal work, from bank transfers to ensuring the security of our territories in accordance with the obligations of these countries. If they give us difficulties, then we also create technical difficulties for the functioning of their embassies. Not because we are malicious, but there is a protocol in diplomacy – reciprocity. This is not our choice, but we cannot talk to them in any other way. They only understand this kind of force and reciprocal and tough measures.

                                            Regarding substantive issues, the Americans periodically raise the question of resuming negotiations on strategic stability. Recently they sent us a document in which they outlined their (long-known to us) calls for the need to resume contacts on strategic stability. They say that we have a responsibility as nuclear powers. We have always been ready for such contacts, which resulted in the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START).

                                            We were forced to suspend it in the sense that we will not fulfil the procedures stipulated in this treaty, although we will maintain the quantitative limits established in it. These procedures basically consist of periodic meetings of the Bilateral Verification Commission and inspections of each other's strategic nuclear facilities. How can we let the Americans into our nuclear facilities (they have been pushing for this for a long time) if they are supplying the Ukrainians with long-range weapons? This has already been used in attempts to attack our strategic nuclear bases. We have little doubt that to prepare these attacks, the Americans not only provided the armaments but also helped with information to try to hit the relevant targets.

                                            The preamble to New Start says that we are not competitors anymore but rely on mutual trust, and we should have a balance of interests and indivisible security. The Americans trampled over all of this, they destroyed it and threw it in the garbage. They say things went wrong with Ukraine, but it is necessary to consider the continuation of the procedures provided by the treaty. This will not happen. This is the only substantial issue that we have been approached on recently.

                                            The European Union has not made any such attempt. We all know well that Brussels adopted a special circular letter that prohibits all EU diplomats in Russia from inviting Russian representatives to events and going to our receptions (even though we have long stopped inviting anyone because Russian diplomats are also not given this honour). It even says that European diplomats in other countries must notify the authorities of their countries to avoid seating Russians near Europeans at official receptions. This is an illness; it's hard to say what it's called. But it is not normal, that's for sure.

                                            Diplomacy was created to allow people to communicate even in the most difficult times and avoid situations of mutual misunderstanding due to lack of communication and questions. But this is their choice.

                                            We have been paying most of our attention to and working with the countries of the Global Majority that are open to cooperation with us. We have redistributed personnel inside the ministry and abroad (embassies, consulates general). In a way, it is easy to deal with the Europeans now. They are not bothering us.

                                            Question: What is trust in the external world based on? How does Russia show its trust?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: Trust in diplomacy and in politics is being built the same way as in everyday life. If you are promised something and the promise is fulfilled, you will trust the person. If there are agreements and they are implemented, your trust grows. If you are fooled once… to me, once is enough. But some people are more tolerant to various manifestations of human nature. They are ready to be deceived once, twice and three times. But even they finally come to understand that it is pointless to continue working with these people.

                                            To a certain extent, this was the way we built relations with the West after Mikhail Gorbachev, and then Boris Yeltsin, were promised that NATO would not expand eastwards, that we would be friends and build a space of security and economic cooperation from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, where everyone would be equal. But they deceived us so many times.

                                            I think our patience was very strong, but at some point it finally ran out. Once a liar always a liar. We have been lied to one time too many.

                                            Question: 2023 was declared the Year of the Teacher. Dmitry Peskov said that President of Russia Vladimir Putin is his mentor. Maria Zakharova said yesterday that you are her mentor. Who would you say was your mentor as a diplomat?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: This is a natural process. When young people start work, they always have mentors.

                                            My first mentor, Alexey Nesterenko, headed the department of International Economic Relations at the Foreign Ministry where I received a job before my assignment to Sri Lanka. He is an outstanding Russian diplomat. In Sri Lanka, I worked under the authority of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Rafik Nishanov. He also taught me a lot.

                                            I matured professionally for the most part when working as Russia's Permanent Representative in New York. Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov taught me many things, even after he left the ministry and the Government and started doing academic work. We communicated regularly. He gave a lot to my generation of diplomats.

                                            I am glad we have instituted the Primakov Medal. It is a rare departmental award. I am particularly pleased to talk about – and I'd like to thank the Moscow authorities and President of Russia Vladimir Putin for their support – an important event in 2019 – we unveiled a monument to Yevgeny Primakov in the square in front of our ministry.

                                            Working with the President of Russia gives one a lot of experience. This should not be underrated, all the more so considering I have worked with Vladimir Putin for a long time. I continue seeing how actively and creatively he reacts to complicated situations, sometimes finding solutions that would not always occur to you.

                                            Question: I have a question related to our generation. We were all born and grew up in a relatively open world where we had cultural and technological ties with other countries and international contacts. Now Russia is seeing a trend towards renouncing Western culture to a certain extent. Thus, the celebration of Halloween was banned or considered objectionable in many Moscow schools. Is it sensible to cancel Western culture in Russia, and what consequences might this produce?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: I'd leave this question to the discretion of every community in a school or university.

                                            When I studied in MGIMO, we held our own holidays, our own skits and had fun. Sometimes, we were joking or goofing around but we were all young.

                                            I don't see anything destructive in various traditions from the West. The main point is to not allow them to dominate our history, our holidays and traditions of holding momentous events.

                                            I don't see anything too terrible in Halloween except for some scenes in Western movies where bloody crimes are committed under the cover of Halloween tradition. I hope this is not a threat to us.

                                            Question: Do you think NATO is weaker or stronger with Russia around? What does the future hold for this organisation?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: As a matter of fact, NATO is a relic of the past. The organisation should have stopped existing after the rationale for creating it disappeared. I mean the existence of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. The North Atlantic alliance was created with the sole purpose of countering Soviet influence in Eastern Europe. The Warsaw Pact emerged as a response to that.

                                            Before that (these documents are readily available), Joseph Stalin proposed joining efforts to build European security. Back then, this proposal was ignored. The same happened when the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union disappeared. There was a chance to build European security around the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which included all European countries plus the United States and Canada. But they chose to preserve NATO.

                                            We keep reminding our Western colleagues that they have committed to specific obligations, such as commitments at the 1999 OSCE Summit in Istanbul and the 2010 summit in Astana, where the principles of indivisible security, including the commitment of all countries not to enhance their security at the expense of the security of others, were reaffirmed. There was a particularly important principle that no country, group of countries, or an organisation would seek domination in the Euro-Atlantic area. This principle was agreed on by all and signed by presidents and prime ministers. Regardless of the mantras approved at the top level, NATO members heard us asking them why they weren't fulfilling these functions. Our suggestion was that if we were unable to establish equal relations based on political statements, we should give these political statements a legally binding force. We suggested this first in 2009 and on later occasions as well. Their answer was straightforward: legal security guarantees can only be provided within NATO. This was a deliberate policy aimed at pulling countries into NATO that felt uncomfortable in the context of Russia-West relations that gradually started to tense up.

                                            What does the future hold for NATO? Until recently, they boasted that they were not an aggressive bloc but an exclusively defensive alliance that used force solely for defending their member countries' territories. Two years ago, that all changed overnight at the summit in Madrid and this summer at the summit in Vilnius. It was declared that NATO had a global responsibility for security on the entire planet, and that security in the Euro-Atlantic region was inseparable from security in the Indo-Pacific region. Elements of the bloc's military infrastructure are making their way into the Asian-Pacific region. Military bloc alliances are being formed there with the goal of advancing NATO components in that part of the world.

                                            In Soviet times we used to say (we had a satirical magazine titled "Krokodil" back then, and now there's a Telegram channel of the same name where you see the caricatures. It's interesting how history repeats itself) that NATO was an aggressive bloc. They claimed they were not an aggressive bloc but just defending their territory. No one is talking about that anymore, and they are extending their "tentacles" (as we said back then) all over the world. It's sad. But I believe they will slog their guts out doing this. You can't impose your hegemony so blatantly and persistently any longer; times have changed.

                                            Question: What should today's Russian diplomat be like?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: Diplomacy is one of the oldest professions because everything needs to be negotiated. The art of negotiation is what diplomacy is all about.

                                            A diplomat should be a well-rounded erudite fluent in as many foreign languages as possible. They should have a deep knowledge of their country's history, the history of its establishment and the wars that unfolded in the process of building the state and developing national patriotism.

                                            I've known a few people who said, "Why does a diplomat need to know the history of France, the United States, etc.? You don't need that." This is not true at all. You cannot work in France, the United States, China, India, Africa, or Latin America without knowing the history of your own country. First, it always shows in your work. Your expertise is good for your credibility, and your counterparts can feel it instantly. I could talk about this at length. The more knowledgeable and well-read you are the better.

                                            People's skills are another crucial quality. A vast number of pivotal decisions have become possible because people in positions of trust from opposing sides who discussed a particular situation had good personal relationships. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, for instance, personal relationships between Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin and Robert Kennedy (the brother of President John F. Kennedy) significantly helped avert undesirable consequences.

                                            If you are a diplomat/political scientist or are studying to become one, you should study everything. Everything you learn will pay off eventually.

                                            Question: Can you provide some valuable tips for those who are embarking on their professional career?

                                            Sergey Lavrov: In my answer to the previous response, I tried to offer guidance for those who want to pursue a diplomatic career. However, this is by no means the only profession that our Motherland needs.

                                            The most important thing is what you want for yourself deep down. I'm convinced there are no fields that are useless or devoid of promise.

                                            Ideally, a profession of choice should become a lifelong pursuit. Sometimes, after graduating from a university, people realise they would like to follow a different career. There is every opportunity to do so.

                                            Most importantly, people should love what they do. This will always be a contribution to the strengthening of our beloved country.

                                                          Space Economy—Space Security Nexus: In Search for Common Ground (Космическая экономика – взаимосвязь космической безопасности: в поисках точек соприкосновения) / Russia, November, 2023
                                                          Keywords: space, cooperation

                                                          When we talk about 'space economy', what comes up to our mind? The issue of its definition and measurement, ambiguousness that exists regarding the scope of downstream, upstream and even midstream segments of space economy. Deliberations over the estimates of space economy volume. Will it generate 700 billion dollars by 2030, surging up to 1 trillion dollars by 2040? How many jobs will be created in related industries? Whose and what investments are shaping the current space economy landscape? Space Investment Quaterly claims, for instance, that cumulative private market equity investment amounts today to more than 280 billion dollars. What to expect next?

                                                          Within this conversation, we reasonably touch upon the role of space economy in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals—the immense influence of telecom, navigation and Earth Observation on boosting industrialization, eradicating poverty and monitoring effectiveness of climate actions. All of these are systematically articulated within UN COPUOS, its sub-committees and other respective fora, not to mention the focus of the recent UN Policy Brief published in the run up to the forthcoming Summit of the Future.

                                                          But do we realize the context impacting the pace of space economy development? Or, in other words, do we really comprehend space economy as being directly intertwined with another "space" element?

                                                          The building block I imply in this context is space security. Some experts may say that underlining this linkage is an attempt to securitize the agenda and incorporate quite peaceful activities into the realm associated with the continuing race for military dominance in space. I would argue that space is to be dealt with as the unique domain, whose primarily geopolitical function has not seen much change during either Space 1.0, Space 2.0 or the ongoing Space 3.0 development stages. Since the 1970s, outer space has gained the utilitarian function, but it has never dissociated with its military-political routes. Even now, when we are witnessing an ever-increasing rivalry for space resources, space energy and establishment of space infrastructure, including cislunar bases and routes, space landscape and especially its future configuration, are shaped by the unresolved security issues in space.

                                                          Can't oversight the Military

                                                          Evgeniya Drozhashchikh:
                                                          NATO'S Space Policy Ups the Stakes?
                                                          Legal vagueness and a lack of trust among space powers, as much as the holders of state sovereignty and state military might, lead to an uncertainty among those who came into space to gain profit, or earn social benefit for the population, or both. In this particular case, we set non-security issues aside, particularly those related to space safety: the question of gaps in space traffic management and space situational awareness, resource extraction, debris that will multiply at this juncture, even if humanity gives up space exploration. These are not indispensably the products of intentional actions, motivated by space politics—but rather side-effects of the slowdown in international space law negotiations (including in regard to prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS)). So let us focus precisely on space security in its traditional sense.

                                                          Why would private space companies care about space security dynamics? The answer may be two-sided. First, whatever the professional debate on outer space security or diplomacy you listen to, space experts would claim that all these years and especially in the 21st century, spacefaring nations live in a state of permanent mistrust. They do not come up with new agreements but for those five treaties and the consequent recommendations and guidelines on certain narrow issues because there is no political will to be transparent and frank with the counterparts. Outer space activities enable and nurture this "concealment" mode. Moreover, even if the state traces and tracks space activities of another state, it still cannot be sure about its motives.

                                                          Eventually, the combination of Terra relations, misperception of intentions in space and an absence of clear understanding of the other side's space capabilities lead to even greater mistrust among spacefaring nations. Amidst no legal answers on what is permitted in outer space and what is not, states are held hostage to the matter of chance. In line with the Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty this may be read as the space companies that are dependent on states providing authorization and continuing supervision (so the companies are the part of the nation-based space ecosystem) have to rely on the matter of chance. Any space company, regardless of its geographic representation or market maturity, has to be ready that its already quite volatile, paying off in a while venture may get riskier.

                                                          Second, if we agree that outer space is just another domain for projecting power, then it serves for extension of Terra policies to yet another dimension. Hence, what happens nowadays on Earth may be transferred to space. With Terra conflicts ongoing, global supply chains get disrupted, transport and logistical routes blocked, while the financial system is undermined. Overall, we speak about transformation of favorable conditions for economic activities into unfavorable ones.

                                                          The same will apply to outer space. If there is conflict, then the conditions may turn into unsuitable for any space operation. Even not being a target, neighboring satellites or stations may get defunct to this or that D-extent [1]—depending on the chosen enforcement tool. Omitting the contemplation over unpredictable in terms of scope and severity terrestrial effects, we may presume that space companies will no longer be able to provide services to customers, expectedly loosing in commercial viability. In these circumstances as the next step, like in Terra case, business will have a choice—either to seek financial assistance and upgrade its business model in order to adapt to the new reality, to go bankrupt if costs are overwhelming, or to integrate into the ongoing conflict, so as to secure long-term state contracts and state support. There are already signs that some companies will choose this path, based on their involvement in the ongoing Ukraine conflict. However, if the military activities are extended to or unveil in outer space and space companies follow the suit, embedding into state defense industry, they will hardly avoid becoming a legitimate target for the opponent.

                                                          Tangled present

                                                          Adding the urgency to the issue is the substantial pressure faced by the space security debate. Since recently at the heart of the PAROS discussion has been a profound dichotomy in interpretation of what space security implies. Some representatives have a targeted military-oriented perspective whereas others blur the lines and claim it encompasses space safety and sustainability, as space "is a completely dual use and holistic area". Whatever the case, the open-ended working group (OEWG) on reducing space threats, convened under UNGA resolution A/76/231 partially to find out the common ground on the issue, failed to achieve consensus this year.

                                                          Alexander Yermakov:
                                                          Conquering the Emptiness: A New Stage in the Militarization of Outer Space
                                                          Then, there is no agreement over the path to follow—shall it be a legally-binding treaty or a package of voluntary measures to ensure space security. As demonstrated by the same OEWG (though also articulated well in advance of the group's meetings), many experts give preference to supplementing the current space rulebook with voluntary action, transparency and confidence-building measures (TCBMs). This approach is characterized as less formal and less technical, prioritizes the common interests of stability, protection and humanitarian obligations. Even though, participants of the OEWG agree that despite the approach's merits, the end goal should be the negotiation of a legally binding treaty on international space security. Apparently not all the state representatives are sharing this perspective, thus we do not witness any (commonly underpinned) progress—rather emergence of initiatives seemingly deepening the divide between two camps.

                                                          In this vein, the future of the Russia-China proposed Treaty on Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space (PPWT) remains unclear. While some pundits think [2] of how to resolve outstanding issues—lacking agreement on the term "space weapon" and inability to compromise the verification part—nothing happens in respective fora.

                                                          In addition, from the angle of working mechanisms, there is, on the one hand, the deadlock of the Conference on Disarmament. On the other hand, there is an absence of a formal mechanism to provide notifications prior to military exercises, to compare approaches to the escalation ladder and to share data as part of conflict resolution and prevention attempts—all of these adding to mistrust and misperceptions.

                                                          The direction of multilateral negotiations therefore does not pave the path to the much anticipated trust and predictability in outer space. By contrast, the observed dynamics question the call to invest in space activities, start space business or integrate into respective supply chains.

                                                          Maze running

                                                          To prevent the conflictual scenario, whose repercussions will be crucial for both non-governmental and governmental space actors, states have to negotiate. Currently, we are witnessing the ongoing trend for reincarnating multilateralism with Russia and China at its core versus the U.S.-led formation of blocks and exclusive clubs of interest. Presumably, it is high time for Russia and China to gather like-minded partners, primarily from the Global South and Global East, and start the new round of discussion on space security matters—emphasizing that the latter is a prerequisite to ensure space economy stability and flourishment. Below are several potential characteristics of this endeavor.

                                                          The discussion shall, first, take place at the multilateral fora that proved their readiness to resist the ongoing trends, including protectionism, unilateral restrictive measures and neglection of multilateralism. The better candidates for deepening the dialogue are BRICS with its six newcomers, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), potentially Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). Respect for each other's sovereignty, recognition of outer space as the global commons, adherence to the rule of law are essential to this conversation.

                                                          Second, the countries could win from clear articulation of space economy—space security nexus. This is not to be perceived as a proposal to mix agendas. But rather to promote and unveil them in a balanced manner, in parallel, because currently PAROS agenda prevails the space economy issues in both BRICS and SCO. Meanwhile it is critical to interlink the urgency of progress on PPWT and "No First Placement of Arms in Outer Space" resolution—with the space business's request for legal and thus financial certainty. The parallel task would be to formulate and reiterate to space companies along with state bodies, why utilization of civilian infrastructure in military purposes is more a curse than a blessing—especially from the long-term sustainability (LTS) of outer space activities perspective.

                                                          And third, regarding the format of the potential deliverables of such a discussion. Leaving the room for interpretation of the following suggestion, it is to be noted that recently we have witnessed the increase in emergence of coalitions—coalitions around particular topics, coalitions at the center of which are voluntary commitments. For instance, the one on banning destructive DA-ASAT testing [3]—which by the way was successfully conducted by four countries, and is now suggested to be ceased as if a sign of good will. Strikingly those who cherish the initiative recognize that it scales down kinetic testing only, letting the technology itself upgrade and be tested with other means. Thus, the "capability neutral approach" welcomes more genuine and tech-savvy minds. Another example of a voluntary commitment is the one on extraction and utilization of space resources—that made the national vision of the Article II of the Outer Space Treaty the multilateral norm. Not to mention the initiative on responsible behaviors that came into existence in parallel with one country's National Space Policy that envisaged gaining leadership in space through promoting a framework for responsible behavior in outer space. The work of the OEWG that was established in line with this initiative yielded certain fruit—diverse stakeholders gathered to take stock of existing international legal and other normative frameworks, current and future threats to space systems. Nonetheless, generally the exchange of opinions confirmed existing space security dichotomies mentioned above, and even exacerbated them, not least due to the nature and background of the initiative.

                                                          Sonay Sorac:
                                                          Discourse Has Changed From Space as a Sanctuary to the Next Warfighting Domain
                                                          If not at the state level, let us look at another voluntary initiative: Space Sustainability Rating (SSR) inspired by the World Economic Forum's Global Future Council on Space Technologies. This scoring is designed to quantify and measure sustainability decisions taken by operators (during the design, the operation and end of life of a space mission), and define whether they deserve Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum status. If the world community did not experience the introduction of anti-competitive measures under the guise of environmental protection, the SSR would have seemed more trustworthy.

                                                          Notably, all these voluntary initiatives were generated first if not within one state, then within one block of countries and ultimately offered to a larger international audience. These initiatives are posed as non-binding and free to follow—the argument that allures many states, including those from the Non-Alignment Movement, who reckon they will be able to maneuver once decided. However, could we imagine the parties of these commitments to violate the norms they subscribed to? In the current international order? Without economic or reputational risks?...

                                                          Whatever the answers, the key point here is that these are examples of states and companies gathering around voluntary initiatives that will supposedly strive to have larger geographic impact and presumably will not put up with rule-breakers. Russia and China do not have to necessarily follow the path. But both countries shall definitely keep in mind the existence of such instruments, forecast their impact and make sure they've done their best to defend their own national interests. The states could potentially diversify their negotiation toolbox—still in the framework of their basic principles.

                                                          * * *

                                                          Concluding, the initiative of bringing to the table the matter of space economy– space security nexus may seem controversial. The clear division of both within multilateral platforms helps negotiators streamline the debate, making sure that the experts possess quite the same competence and do not have to jump from one agenda to another like jack of all trades, master of none. But the very idea is not to alter the state of affairs. It is to highlight and convince all the space actors that these two realms are equally important and mutually complementary.

                                                          Space diplomats dealing with space security portfolio have to admit the urgency of coming to the next milestone (agreed report of the forthcoming Group of Governmental Experts on PAROS or consensus on terminology, etc.) in order to enhance trust of space companies in the profitability and worthiness of their ventures. Any consensus-based supplement to the current legal framework shall be considered as the direct contribution to the well-functioning and stability of space economy and thus global economy and well-being as a whole.

                                                          For private space companies, to which can be attributed around 78% of today's global space economy, it is crucial to clearly understand space security implications, grey areas in the international space law as well as consequences of providing primarily civilian space infrastructure for the military needs. The question is not only about staying LTS-responsible, responsible from the humanitarian lens. But also about risks for the business's ability to satisfy the customer's demand—in case of response attack by the adversary. [4] All in all, determination not to militarize on behalf of these entities in its turn will make the governments admit that the resources they may convert to military use are not unlimited and thus adjust negotiation strategy.

                                                          Russia and China, having a substantial background in space-related negotiations along with playing a key role in the dynamically evolving multilateral groupings, could bring forward the idea—on either side, among space security diplomats or space business. Both countries have the leverage and the interest in conveying the message. As for the formats of promoting the discussion, there are options available.

                                                          The article draws on the talking points for the International Round Table "The Role of Law in Increasing the Social and Economic Benefits of Space Projects" held by Shenzhen MSU-BIT University Center for Comparative Law (October 20, 2023).

                                                          1. The author means the opportunities to deceive, disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy adversary space capabilities.

                                                          2. International space security mechanisms: current status and analysis of their limitations in the context of the prevention of an arms race in space / E. Drozhashchikh, L. Farrar, K. Grattan et al. // IAC 2022 Congress proceedings, 73rd International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Paris, France. International Astronautical Congress France: 2022.

                                                          3. Kinetic, direct-ascent anti-satellite testing generating space debris.

                                                          4. The author recognizes that the thesis first and foremost applies to the companies with a balanced civil-military contracts ratio, for which such an attack will affect the essential source of income.

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