Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum

Monitoring of the economic, social and labor situation in the BRICS countries
Issue 8.2024
2024.02.19 — 2024.02.25
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
BRICS bloc staunch force for good in international affairs: China (Блок БРИКС — непоколебимая сила добра в международных делах: Китай) / Turkey, February, 2024
Keywords: cooperation

China said Thursday that the BRICS bloc is widely recognized by emerging markets and developing countries and has become a "staunch force for good in international affairs."

"BRICS advocates openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation for common development and prosperity," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a news conference in Beijing.

Mao was commenting on a statement by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who said the old colonial world characterized by wars, interventions, genocide and a superiority complex, is being replaced by a new world order where BRICS plays a significant role.

She said China is ready to work with "all parties" to continue to deepen the BRICS strategic partnership, actively expand practical cooperation in various areas, to advance a more balanced and effective global governance architecture and make more of the forum's contribution to world peace and development.

"Amid emerging risks and challenges in today's world, the developing countries share an increasing desire to pursue solidarity and progress, reject external interference and seek strength through unity," she added.

BRICS is an international economic and trade bloc comprising of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa that was formed as a counter to Western influence.
                Lula Plans to Meet With Putin at BRICS Summit in October (Лула планирует встретиться с Путиным на саммите БРИКС в октябре) / USA, February, 2024
                Keywords: top_level_meeting, vladimir_putin, lula_da_silva

                • Latin American leader will take part in the BRICS summit
                • Brazil's president met with Russia's Sergei Lavrov in Brasilia

                President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in October when the two leaders attend the BRICS summit slated to be held in Russia, Brazil's government said in statement Thursday night.

                It will be the first meeting of the bloc in which Putin will participate since the beginning of Russia's war against Ukraine in 2022. The Russian president didn't travel to the group's summit last year in South Africa given the risk of being arrested by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
                              Brazil at the helm of G20: bridging the divides (Бразилия во главе «Большой двадцатки»: преодоление разногласий) / Russia, February, 2024
                              Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

                              Brazil's chairmanship in the G20 this year is a unique chance for the Global South to extend its representation in key global platforms as well as a crucial opportunity for the global community to overcome the divides between the developed and developing economies. Brazil's Lula has been active in advancing projects and platforms that go precisely towards overcoming the divides between the North and the South, including in such crucial areas as environmental policy and economic and trade liberalization. Perhaps the most significant scope for bringing together organizations and institutions from the North and the South is via the regional track whereby closer cooperation within the G20 framework is forged among the regional development institutions and regional integration blocs. Brazil's role in the MERCOSUR bloc as one of the key regional integration projects in the Global South with significant outreach efforts to the developed world (most notably via the MERCOSUR-EU FTA discussions) may serve as a precursor to launching new platforms of cooperation among regional arrangements within the G20 framework.

                              In the financial sphere a key focus for the G20 in the coming years will be bringing the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) (including mostly regional development banks) into greater coordination with each other as well as with the Bretton Woods institutions. The first steps in this direction have been undertaken last year when the World Bank created a platform for MDBs to coordinate policies and pool resources for purposes of financing priority projects in the environmental and other key spheres. Brazil is likely to build on these efforts and the work launched by India in exploring the possibilities for systemic improvements in the efficiency of MDB operations. There may also be scope to expand the array of regional development institutions and MDBs that are regularly within the framework of key G20 meetings.

                              One way to enlarge the platform for multilateral development banks and to bring them into closer cooperation with the Bretton Woods institutions and the G20 would be to invite institutions such as the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) to G20 summits. The participation of NDB in G20 summits and key meetings has been one of my proposals in the past several years. In an interview to the Investment Monitor in the fall of last year I noted that "the NDB and IMF will soon participate together at the G20 summits and meetings dedicated to global financial stability"[1]. It is all the more gratifying then to see that Brazil has in fact opted to invite the New Development Bank to G20 meetings this year alongside the traditional participants among global and regional institutions, including the Bretton Woods organizations.

                              Apart from the regional and multilateral development institutions Brazil appears to also target greater participation of regional integration groups in the G20. After the accession of the African Union (AU) into the G20, there may be further scope for more regional integration blocs to be represented in the G20 platform. In particular, Brazil has opted to invite MERCOSUR as its key regional integration project to participate in the G20 meetings. Lula has been active in advancing the partnerships of MERCOSUR with other regional blocs, including within the framework of a MERCOSUR-EU trade agreement. While the modalities of MERCOSUR participation are not fully clear at this stage, at the very least the momentum for greater involvement of regional integration blocs in the G20 is sustained. There may be more to come on this front next year when South Africa takes over the presidency in the G20, with greater scope likely to be provided to the African Union in building cooperative networks with other regional blocs and organizations within the G20 framework.

                              Thus far, however, Africa's representatives are raising questions on what the role and impact of regional blocs such as the African Union are likely to be in the G20 in the coming years. New initiatives from the African Union in the current context may include discussions on a coordinated framework for Africa's debt sustainability. But the scope for greater activism within the G20 for the African Union would be unlocked with the creation of a platform for regional integration blocs (a regional 20) as an additional G20 engagement group. This in turn would open up new communication lines between regional arrangements at the global level and facilitate new initiatives such as common projects in the environmental sphere and transportation connectivity with the participation of the relevant regional development arrangements/banks. Brazil could provide some preparatory ground for these potential advancements via launching discussions within the G20 on the role of the African Union and other integration blocs in contributing to resolving some of the challenges for the global economy.

                                            An Age of Wars? Article Two. What Is to be Done (Эпоха войн? Статья вторая. Что надо сделать) / Russia, February, 2024
                                            Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

                                            This article will be published in issue №3 of "Russia in Global Affairs" magazine.

                                            "Our path has pierced our breast like an arrow

                                            Of ancient Tatar will…

                                            …And the battle is eternal! We can only dream of peace

                                            Through blood and dust…

                                            The mare of the steppe flies on and on

                                            And tramples the steppe grass…"

                                            Alexander Blok

                                            "On the Field of Kulikovo"

                                            My previous article discussed the unprecedentedly dangerous situation in which we now find ourselves (Karaganov, 2024). In this article, I outline the new policies and priorities that Russia, as I believe, should adopt, building upon Russia's National Security Strategy (2021) and especially its Foreign Policy Concept (2023).

                                            Foreign Policy

                                            The extremely dangerous world of the next two decades requires that Russia adjust its foreign and defense policy. I have already written that this policy should be based on the "Fortress Russia" concept: maximum possible sovereignty, independence, autonomy, and security, with a focus on intensive internal development (Karaganov, 2017). (But certainly not autarky, which is deadly.) Russia must be intelligently open to beneficial economic, scientific, cultural, and informational cooperation with friendly countries of the World Majority. However, openness is not an end in itself, but rather a means to ensure internal material and spiritual development. As we have already seen, liberal-globalist openness is also deadly. It would be stupid to try to integrate into "international value chains" now that the creators of the former system of globalization are destroying it and militarizing economic ties. Interdependence, previously overestimated as a source of peace, is now largely dangerous. We must try to create "value chains" on our own territory in order to increase its connectedness. This especially applies to the connections of Russia's core to Siberia and—more carefully—to friendly states, most prominently Belarus, most of Central Asia, China, Mongolia, and the rest of the SCO and BRICS.

                                            The "Fortress Russia" policy demands that Russia minimize its entanglement in the conflicts that will flare up during the ongoing "geostrategic earthquake." Under the new conditions, direct involvement is not an asset, but a liability, as the former colonial powers are beginning to experience. The U.S., especially, faces an upsurge of anti-Americanism and attacks on its bases. These and other overseas holdings will become increasingly vulnerable, which we should indirectly facilitate, thus raising the cost of the American empire and helping the American foreign policy class to recover from its globalist hegemonic disease of the postwar period, and especially of the last thirty years. We were wise enough not to get entangled in the newest Armenian-Azerbaijani and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. But we should not by any means repeat the Ukrainian failure, permitting anti-Russian elites to take power in neighboring countries or allowing those countries to be destabilized from outside. Kazakhstan is of greatest concern in this regard. We need to work proactively, together with other, friendly countries.

                                            To continue its only partially successful Turn to the East eastward turn via the Far East, Russia needs a new comprehensive national Siberian strategy, which would call for going forward, but also "back" to the romantic period of the Trans-Urals' development.

                                            Russia must be "Siberianized," shifting its center of spiritual, political, and economic development to the Urals and all of Siberia (not just the Pacific part). The Northern Sea Route, the Northern Silk Road, and major North-South land routes must be rapidly developed. The labor-rich but water-poor Central Asian countries should be incorporated into this strategy.

                                            Conscious integration into the new world also requires the discovery of our Asian roots. The great Russian ruler, Prince Saint Alexander Nevsky, not only received a yarlyk authorizing his rule at Sarai from Batu Khan, but also traveled across modern Central Asia and Southern Siberia, in 1248-1249, to have the yarlyk endorsed at the Mongol capital of Karakorum. There, a few years later, Kublai Khan began his rise to power, which would culminate in his becoming the emperor and the establishment of the Yuan Dynasty over China, Mongolia, Korea, and a number of adjacent countries. Kublai, whom we know of through Marco Polo, almost certainly met Alexander. Kublai's mother was a Christian, and his forces included Russian recruits from the Smolensk and Ryazan provinces. Likewise, Alexander's army included Mongols, whose authority he sought to overthrow, but whom he used to protect his lands from enemies to the west—enemies who threatened, as we would now say, the identity of Russia. The history of Russia-China relations is much deeper than is commonly believed.

                                            Russia would not have become a great empire—and most likely would not have survived on the European plain, attacked from the south, east, and west—if it had not been for the conquest and development of Siberia with its infinite resources. It was largely on their basis that Peter the Great built an empire: fees from caravans, carrying silk and tea from China to Europe along Russia's Northern Silk Road, were used to equip the regiments of the new Russian army.

                                            It would have been better to finish our Western, European odyssey a century earlier. There now remains little of use to be borrowed from the West, though plenty of rubbish seeps in from it. But, as we belatedly complete the journey, we will retain the great European culture that is now rejected by post-European fashion. Without it, we would not have created the greatest literature in the world. And without Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Tolstoy, Gogol, and Blok, we would not have become a great country and nation.

                                            In the new international situation, unconditional priority should be given to society's development of a defensive consciousness, readiness to defend the Fatherland, including with arms. The "snowflakes" in our society should melt, and its warriors should multiply. This will mean the development of our competitive advantage, which will be needed in the future: the ability and willingness to fight, inherited from the hard-won struggle for survival on a giant plain, open on all sides.

                                            Today's foreign policy should be geared towards the comprehensive development of relations with the countries of the World Majority. Another obvious, but not yet formulated, goal is to work together with the World Majority countries to ensure the maximally-peaceful exit of the West from its nearly-five-century-old position of dominance. And the maximally-peaceful exit of the U.S. from the hegemony that it enjoyed since the late 1980s (though uncontested for only about the first 15 years). They should be relocated to a more modest, but worthy, place in the world system. There is no need to kick them out: given the vector of Western development, they will leave by themselves. But it is necessary to firmly deter any rearguard actions of the West's still-powerful organism. Normal relations may be partly restored in a couple of decades or so. But they are not an end in itself.

                                            In a new diverse, multi-religious and multicultural world, we must develop one more competitive advantage: internationalism, and cultural and religious openness. In education, special emphasis should be placed on the study of the languages, culture, and life of the rising powers and civilizations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Foreign policy thinking should be not just encouraged, but forced, to turn to the other world from outdated and now simply wretched Westernism.

                                            I have written much about the need for a radical reform of the foreign policy apparatus. It is underway but hindered by bureaucratic and mental inertia, and by secret hopes for an impossible return to the bygone status quo ante. I would also risk calling for administrative measures: diplomats posted in the West should be paid less than those stationed in the World Majority. It is important to work with the World Majority to create new institutions that would help to build a new world and to prevent or at least slow our slide into a series of crises.

                                            The United Nations is going to extinct, saddled with Western bureaucrats and therefore unreformable. There is no need to tear it down, but it is necessary to build parallel bodies based on BRICS+, and an expanded SCO, and their integration with the Organization of African Unity, the Arab League, ASEAN, and Mercosur. In the interim, it may be possible to create a permanent conference of these institutions within the UN.

                                            If Russia is a civilization of civilizations, then why not start building an organization of organizations with our friends and partners―a prototype of the future UN?

                                            China is the main external resource for our internal development, an ally and partner for the foreseeable future. Russia should help develop China's naval and strategic nuclear capabilities in order to help oust the United States as an aggressive hegemon, facilitating its withdrawal into relatively constructive neo-isolationism similar to that of the 1920-1930s, but adjusted to the new reality.

                                            China and Russia are complementary powers. Their coalition, if it can be preserved—and it must be preserved—may eventually become a determining factor in the construction of the new world system. It is gratifying that China's modern foreign policy philosophy is very close to ours.

                                            At the same time, Russia's strategy should focus on avoiding one-sided economic dependence, and also on facilitating China's "friendly balancing" by cooperating with Turkey, Iran, India, Pakistan, the ASEAN countries, the Arab world, the two Koreas, and prospectively even Japan. Preventing an inter-Korean conflict, provoked by the U.S., is the foremost task. The primary element of "friendly balancing" should be the new development of Siberia. This balancing will be useful to Beijing, too, as it will help alleviate China's neighbors' fear of its growing power. Finally, friendly, almost allied relations with China, friendly relations with India, and the development of the SCO should serve as the basis for building a security, development and cooperation system of the Greater Eurasian Partnership. I hope that its creation is becoming an official goal of Russian foreign policy.

                                            Such a strategy will provide a safety net if historical, expansionist, i.e., Mongolian genes suddenly wake up in a China that has been living in peace for several centuries. These genes, however, unite us. Both countries are essentially heirs to the great empire of Genghis Khan. Identifying these common roots is a fascinating task for historians in both countries. If Russia stays strong (for which we will have to fight), China remains a peace-loving giant, and their leaders and peoples deepen their friendship, this pair of countries will become the bulwark of international peace and stability.

                                            India is another natural ally in creating the new world system and arresting our slide towards the Third World War. It is a source of critical technologies, labor for the new development of Siberia, and an almost limitless market. The most important task is to engage India in building the Greater Eurasian Partnership, from which it is still somewhat aloof; prevent it from becoming an unfriendly balancer of China, which the United States is pushing it to be; and ease the natural competition between India and China. The Primakov Triangle of Russia, China, and India is a guarantor of Greater Eurasia's relatively peaceful development. Separate efforts will be needed to smooth out Indo-Pakistani tensions, which remain on the periphery of Russian diplomacy's attention, but which are one of the most dangerous possible sources of a thermonuclear conflict. In the meantime, we need hundreds of Indologists, dozens of experts on Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian and Africa countries, and, of course, thousands more Sinologists.

                                            More attention must be paid to ASEAN as part of the Greater Eurasia strategy. ASEAN is more than just markets and pleasant vacation destinations. It is a region where serious conflicts may erupt within a decade, especially since the retreating U.S. is still interested in their incitement.

                                            The state of our ties with the Arab world is deeply satisfying. We maintain functionally friendly relations with many of its leading states―Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria. Russia's external balancing helps to bring order to the turbulent region, which the United States is actively destabilizing. China, which has contributed to the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has also joined the policy of external balancing and is doing its job brilliantly.

                                            On the North American track, Russia should facilitate the U.S.'s ongoing long-term withdrawal into neo-isolationism, quite natural for it, at a new global level. Clearly, there is no returning to the pre-WWII policy paradigm, and that would probably even be undesirable. The U.S.'s dependence on the outside world provides tools for pressuring it. If its current liberal-globalist elites leave power, the U.S. may even turn back into the relatively constructive global balancer that it was before the second half of the 20th century. A comprehensive strategy for the U.S.'s containment is unnecessary, as it would only waste the resources that we need for internal rejuvenation. There are no intractable contradictions between us and the U.S. The contradictions that currently exist were caused by the U.S.'s expansion, facilitated by our weakness and stupidity in the 1990s, which contributed to the dramatic upsurge of hegemonic sentiment in the U.S. The internal crisis in the U.S., and its present elites' commitment to post-human values, will further sap Washington's "soft power," i.e. ideological influence. In the meantime, a harsh deterrence policy (more on it below) should create conditions for the U.S.'s evolution into a normal great power.

                                            Europe―once a beacon of modernization for us and many other nations―is rapidly moving towards geopolitical nothingness and, hopefully I am wrong, towards moral and political decay. Its still-wealthy market is worth exploiting, but our main effort in relation to the old subcontinent should be morally and politically fencing ourselves off from it. Having first lost its soul―Christianity―it is now losing the fruit of the Enlightenment―rationalism. Besides, on orders from outside, the Eurobureaucracy is itself isolating Russia from Europe. We are grateful.

                                            A break with Europe is an ordeal for many Russians. But we must go through it as quickly as possible. Naturally, fencing-off should not become a principle or be total. But any talk of recreating a European security system is a dangerous chimera. Systems of cooperation and security should be built within the framework of the continent of the future―Greater Eurasia―by inviting European countries that are interested and are of interest to us.

                                            An important element of the new foreign policy strategy should be an offensive (not defensive, as often in the past) ideological strategy. Attempts to "please" and negotiate with the West are not only immoral, but also counterproductive according to Realpolitik. It is time to openly raise the banner of the defense of normal human values from the post-and even anti-human ones coming from the West.

                                            One of the main principles of Russian policy should be the active struggle for peace—long ago proposed, and then repudiated, by the Russian foreign policy community which was tired of Soviet slogans. And not a struggle just against nuclear war. The slogan of half a century ago—"Nuclear war should never be unleashed, as it can have no winners"—is beautiful, but also starry-eyed. As the conflict in Ukraine has shown, it opens the door to major conventional wars. And such wars can and will become ever more frequent, and deadly, and yet also within reach unless they are opposed by an active policy of peace.

                                            Our only reasonable goal regarding Ukraine's lands is quite obvious to me―the liberation, and reunification with Russia, of the entire South, East, and (probably) Dnieper Basin. Ukraine's western regions will be the subject of future bargaining. The best solution would be creating a demilitarized buffer-state there with a formal neutral status (with Russian bases to guarantee neutrality)―a place to live for those residents of present-day Ukraine who do not want be citizens of Russia and live by Russian laws. And to avoid provocations and uncontrolled migration, Russia should build a fence along its border with the buffer-state, like the one that Trump started on the border with Mexico.

                                            Defense Policy

                                            When preemptively (although belatedly) starting a military operation against the West, we, acting on old assumptions, did not expect the enemy to unleash a full war. So we did not use active nuclear deterrence/intimidation tactics from the very outset. And we are still dragging our feet. By so doing we not only doom hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine (including losses from a plunging quality of life) and tens of thousands of our men to death, but we also do a disservice to the whole world. The aggressor, which is de facto the West, remains unpunished. This clears the way for further aggression.

                                            We have forgotten the basics of deterrence. Reduced significance of nuclear deterrence benefits an actor with greater conventional military potential and human, and economic resources, and vice versa. When the USSR had conventional superiority, the U.S./NATO did not hesitate to rely heavily on the first-strike concept. The U.S. bluffed, though, and if it did make such plans, they were directed solely against Soviet troops advancing into NATO's territory. No strikes on Soviet territory were planned, since there was no doubt that the retaliation would target American cities.

                                            Greater reliance on nuclear deterrence, and accelerated movement up the escalation ladder are designed to convince the West that it has three options regarding the conflict in Ukraine. First, to retreat with dignity, for example, on the conditions proposed above. Second, to be defeated, to flee as it did from Afghanistan, and to face a wave of armed and sometimes thuggish refugees. Or, third, the exact same, plus nuclear strikes on its territory and the accompanying societal disintegration.

                                            It is Russian tradition to deliver a crushing defeat to European invaders and then agree on a new order.

                                            This is what Alexander I, Kutuzov, and de Tolly did in 1812-1814, after which followed the Congress of Vienna. Then Stalin, Zhukov, Konev, and Rokossovsky defeated Hitler's pan-European army, leading to the Potsdam Agreements. But for such an agreement to be concluded now, we would have to clear the way for the Russian troops with nuclear weapons. And we would still suffer huge losses, including moral ones. After all, it would be an offensive war. A viable nuclear deterrent and a security buffer in Western Ukraine should guarantee the end of the aggression. The Special Military Operation must be continued until victory. Our enemies must know that if they do not retreat, the legendary Russian patience will run dry, and the death of each Russian soldier will be paid for with thousands of lives on the other side.

                                            It will be impossible to prevent the world from sliding into a series of conflicts and subsequent global thermonuclear war, to ensure our country's continued peaceful revival and its transformation into one of the architects and builders of the new world system, unless our nuclear deterrence policy is drastically energized and updated. I have written about many aspects of this policy in my previous articles and other documents. In fact, Russian doctrine already provides for the use of nuclear weapons to counter a wide range of threats, but real policy in its current form goes further than the doctrine. We should clarify and strengthen the wording and take the corresponding military-technical measures. The main thing is that we demonstrate our readiness and ability to use nuclear weapons in case of extreme necessity.

                                            I have no doubt that the doctrine is already being updated, to which many concrete steps testify. The most obvious one is the deployment of long-range missile systems in fraternal Belarus. These missiles are clearly intended for use not only when the "very existence of the state" is threatened, but much earlier. And yet, the doctrine's provisions specifying the conditions for the use of nuclear weapons have certain gaps that need to be filled, especially in the conditions of an obviously pre-war situation.

                                            By intensifying nuclear deterrence, we will not only sober up the aggressors, but also perform an invaluable service to all humanity. There is currently no other protection from a series of wars and a major thermonuclear conflict. Nuclear deterrence needs to be activated. At the Institute of World Military Economics and Strategy, recently created at the Higher School of Economics and headed by Admiral Sergei Avakyants and Professor Dmitry Trenin, we will provide academic support. I will present here only some of my views, which require the fastest working-out and implementation.

                                            Russia's policy should be based on the assumption that NATO is a hostile bloc that has proven its aggressiveness with its previous policy and which is de facto waging a war against Russia. Therefore, any nuclear strikes on NATO, including preemptive ones, are morally and politically justified. This applies primarily to countries that provide the most active support to the Kiev junta. The old and especially new members of the alliance must understand that their security has cardinally weakened since joining the bloc, and that their ruling comprador elites have put them on the edge of life and death. I have repeatedly written that if Russia delivers a preemptive retribution strike on any NATO country, the U.S. will not respond unless the White House and Pentagon are populated by madmen who hate their country and are ready to destroy Washington, Houston, Chicago, or Los Angeles for the sake of Poznan, Frankfurt, Bucharest, or Helsinki.

                                            From my point of view, Russian nuclear policy and the threat of retaliation should also deter the West from the massive use of biological or cyber weapons against Russia or its allies. The arms race in this field, conducted by the U.S. and some of its allies, must be stopped.

                                            It is time to end the quarrel, pushed by the West, about the possibility of using "tactical nuclear weapons." Their use was theoretically envisaged during the previous Cold War. Judging from leaks, American strategists are working on the further miniaturization of nuclear weapons. This policy is foolish and short-sighted, as it further erodes strategic stability, thus increasing the likelihood of global nuclear war. As far as I understand, this approach is also extremely ineffective militarily.

                                            I believe it appropriate to gradually raise the minimal yield of nuclear warheads to 30-40 kilotons, or 1.5-2 Hiroshima bombs, so that potential aggressors and their populations understand what awaits them. Lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, and increasing their minimal yield, is also necessary to restore another lost function of nuclear deterrence: the prevention of large-scale conventional wars. Strategic planners in Washington and their European minions must realize that the downing of Russian planes over our territory, or the further bombardment of Russian cities, will entail punishment (after a non-nuclear warning strike) in the form of a nuclear strike. Then, perhaps, they will take it up upon themselves to do away with the Kiev junta.

                                            It also appears necessary to alter (to some extent, publicly) the list of targets for nuclear retaliatory strikes. We need to think hard about who, exactly, we intend to deter. After the Americans, "in defense of democracy" and for the sake of their imperial ambitions, have killed millions in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Iraq, committed monstrous acts of aggression against Yugoslavia and Libya, and against all warnings deliberately cast hundreds of thousands—maybe even millions—of Ukrainians into the fire of war, there is no guarantee that the threat of retaliation, even against cities, is a sufficient deterrent for the globalist oligarchy. Simply put, they do not care even about their own citizens, and will not be frightened by casualties among them.

                                            Maybe it would be worth designating this oligarchy's gathering-places as targets for the first wave, or even for preemptive retribution strikes?

                                            God struck Sodom and Gomorrah—mired in abomination and debauchery—with a rain of fire. The modern equivalent: a limited nuclear strike on Europe. Another hint from The Old Testament: to cleanse the world, God unleashed the Great Flood. Our Poseidon nuclear torpedoes can trigger similar floods by tsunamis. Today, most brazenly aggressive states are coastal. The globalist oligarchy and the deep state should not hope to escape as Noah and his pious family did.

                                            Allow me to repeat the above. Improving the credibility and effectiveness of nuclear deterrence is necessary not only to end the war that the West unleashed in Ukraine, or to peacefully put the West in a much more modest but hopefully worthy place in the future world system. Above all else, nuclear deterrence is needed in order to stop the approaching wave of conflicts, to ward off an "age of wars," and to prevent their escalation to the global thermonuclear level.

                                            This is why we should go up the ladder of nuclear deterrence, regardless of the war in Ukraine. To develop upon the steps already planned and taken, I believe that it would be advisable, after consultation with friendly states but without shifting responsibility to them, to resume nuclear testing as soon as possible: first underground, and if this is not enough, then with the detonation of Tsar-Bomba-2 on Novaya Zemlya, while taking steps to minimize damage to the environment of our own country and of friendly World Majority states.

                                            I would not even protest too much if such a demonstration were also conducted by the United States. This would only enhance the universal effect of nuclear deterrence. But Washington is not yet interested in enhancing the role of the nuclear factor in international affairs, relying instead on its still-significant economic power and conventional forces.

                                            Sooner or later, Russia will have to change its official nuclear non-proliferation policy. The old one had some utility, as it reduced the risks of unauthorized use and nuclear terrorism. But it was unfair to many non-Western states, and stopped working long ago. Adhering to it, we took our lead from the Americans, who wanted to minimize not only risks, but also counterbalances to their conventional (especially naval) superiority. Historically and philosophically, proliferation contributes to peace. It is frightening to even imagine what would have happened if the USSR and then China had not developed nuclear weapons. Having acquired nuclear weapons, Israel became more confident among its hostile neighbors. (However, it has abused this confidence by rejecting a fair solution to the Palestinian question, and now unleashing a war in Gaza with clearly genocidal characteristics. If its neighbors had nuclear weapons, Israel would have acted more modestly.) Having carried out nuclear tests, India became more secure in relations with a more powerful China. The Indo-Pakistani conflict still smolders, but the clashes have diminished since both countries obtained nuclear status.

                                            North Korea is more confident and is raising its international status, especially since Russia finally stopped dragging itself after the West and de facto resumed cooperation with Pyongyang. Limited nuclear proliferation may also prove useful as a barrier to the creation and use of bioweapons. Raising the nuclear threat could deter the militarization of AI technologies. But most importantly, nuclear weapons, including their proliferation, are necessary to restore the aspects of nuclear deterrence that have ceased functioning—to prevent not only major conventional wars (as in Ukraine), but also a conventional arms race. A conventional war cannot be won if the potential enemy has nuclear weapons and, most importantly, is ready to use them.

                                            Greater reliance on nuclear deterrence is necessary to cool the European "leaders" who have lost their mind, speak of an inevitable clash between Russia and NATO, and urge their armed forces to prepare for it. These babblers and their listeners need to be reminded that, in the event of war between Russia and NATO in Europe, little will be left of many European alliance-members after even the first few days of the conflict.

                                            Naturally, proliferation also carries risks. But given the current disorder and redivision of the world, these risks are much smaller than those that result from the weakening of nuclear deterrence.

                                            There will be no polycentric and sustainable future world order without nuclear multilateralism.

                                            Needless to say, some countries should be permanently and firmly denied the right to possess nuclear weapons, or even come close to obtaining them. Germany, which started two world wars and committed genocide, must become a legitimate target for destruction by a preemptive strike if it ever tries to lay its hands on a nuclear bomb. However, having forgotten its gruesome history, it is already asking for such punishment by acting as a revanchist state and the main European sponsor of the war in Ukraine. In Europe, all countries that participated in Hitler's invasion of the USSR should fear a similar fate. I think that such a fate would also be shared, in the event of emergency, by the country that Churchill aptly named the "hyena of Europe," if it ever contemplated obtaining nuclear weapons. God forbid, of course, as I have said so many times before.

                                            China, with the support of Russia and other World Majority countries, will have every right, and even moral obligation, to punish Japan—whose aggression claimed tens of millions of lives in China and other Asian countries, and which still dreams of revenge and claims Russian territory—if Tokyo moves toward acquisition of nuclear weapons.

                                            A sustainable nuclear balance must be established in the Middle East between: Israel, if and when it overcomes its delegitimization by the atrocities that it has committed in Gaza; Iran, if it withdraws its officially announced pledge to destroy Israel; and one of the Gulf countries or their commonwealth. The most acceptable candidate to represent the entire Arab world is the UAE, and if not it, then Saudi Arabia and/or Egypt. Naturally, the World Majority countries should move towards nuclear status at a measured pace, while training relevant personnel and elites. Russia can and should share its experience with them. Dialogue with the leading countries of the World Majority, on the substance and modernization of nuclear deterrence policy, must be intensively developed now. If the United States — while transitioning (hopefully as peacefully as possible) from the status of global hegemon (which it got by chance) to the role of a normal great power — decides to return to a classical interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine and again become a hegemon in Latin America, we might consider helping Brazil or even Mexico to obtain nuclear status (if they wanted it).

                                            Many of the proposals outlined above will spark a wave of criticism, as did last year's articles on nuclear deterrence. But they turned out to be extremely useful for both the domestic and international strategic communities, by waking them from their lethargic dream of strategic parasitism. Americans quickly stopped talking about how Russia would never use nuclear weapons in response to the West's aggression in Ukraine. Then they started talking about the danger of nuclear escalation in Ukraine. And then about how they would lose a war against Russia and China. Europe, which has completely lost its strategically-thinking class, is still whining, but they are not that dangerous.

                                            We will have to work and think together. I believe that we will do so, both publicly and behind closed doors, with experts from the leading countries of the World Majority, and in the future, with representatives of the sobered-up Western world. I will end my essay with lines of hope from Alexander Blok: "Before it is too late, put an old sword in the scabbard, / Comrades! We will become brothers!" If we survive the next two decades and avoid another age of wars like the 20th century, our children and grandchildren will live in a multicolored, multicultural, and much more just world.

                                                          Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's interview with the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, February 21, 2024 (Интервью Министра иностранных дел С.В.Лаврова бразильской газете O Globo, 21 февраля 2024 г.) / Russia, February, 2024
                                                          Keywords: quotation, sergey_lavrov

                                                          Question: What role, do you think, should the Group of 20 play today, and what objectives does it have now that Brazil holds its presidency?

                                                          Sergey Lavrov: The G20 was originally created as an economic format. The decision to create it was prompted by the deep financial crisis in the United States in 2008. Back then, the world's largest economies managed to develop effective solutions.

                                                          At the same time, it became clear that relying on just one centre of economic power is not a viable approach and most recently the G20 has engaged in a dialogue to reform and to restore the functionality of global economic institutions.

                                                          The positive dynamics of this forum are largely attributable to the fact that emerging markets are acting independently and insisting on fair consideration of their interests. The declaration adopted at the 2023 Delhi summit reflects the developing countries' priorities. The accession of the African Union to the G20 came as a major achievement.

                                                          We are positive about Brazil's initiative to convene a G20 ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly.

                                                          The agenda of Brazil's presidency in this association is in line with Russia's plans regarding BRICS, which Russia chairs in 2024. Brazil has invited the New Development Bank to interact with the G20. The focus on overcoming the challenges of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals is fully justified. It is important to develop balanced solutions regarding the energy transition, digital transformation, rebuilding supply chains, and ensuring access to energy and food. It is important for the G20 countries to commit to not weaponise the economy and to not engage in unfair competition.

                                                          Question: Brazil and Russia are BRICS partners. This group was expanded not long ago to include new countries, such as Iran. How important is BRICS for Russia's foreign policy and its vision of global geopolitics? Are BRICS countries Russia's main allies today?

                                                          Sergey Lavrov: Strengthening the potential and role of BRICS in international affairs is our priority.

                                                          BRICS members represent different economic and political systems, religions, and macro-regions and are able to work together as equal partners. Its international standing is steadily growing which can be seen from five more members joining it on January 1. BRICS is a pillar of the multipolar world.

                                                          Russia has been chairing BRICS since January 1. The 2024 programme includes over 200 events. We will contribute to the seamless integration of new members into the association's activities.

                                                          Question: The special military operation has been going on for two years now. A variety of ways to end the conflict are being discussed, but what is the ultimate goal of the special operation as of the moment?

                                                          Sergey Lavrov: The goals and objectives of the special military operation were outlined by President Putin and include the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine and eliminating threats to Russia's security that come from its territory.

                                                          The root causes of the Ukraine crisis need to be eliminated if we want to achieve a sustainable and fair settlement. The West must stop supplying weapons to Ukraine, and Kiev must stop hostilities. Ukraine should reinstate its neutral, non-aligned, and non-nuclear status and ensure the rights and freedoms of its citizens. It is critical that the basis be the new territorial realities and the situation on the ground.

                                                          Neither Kiev nor the West demonstrates any sign of political will to settle the conflict. We have no choice but to continue the special military operation until its goals are achieved.

                                                          Question: Acting in line with its diplomatic traditions, Brazil has condemned the special military operation, as well as sanctions on Russia and the supply of weapons to Kiev by the United States, among others. The Brazilian President's top foreign affairs adviser Celso Amorim met with President Putin in Moscow and President Zelensky in Kiev. What's your take on Brazil's role in bringing an end to the conflict? Can it act as a possible mediator or an aid in talks since it maintains contact with both sides?

                                                          Sergey Lavrov: We appreciate Brazil's commitment to promoting a political and diplomatic settlement. In April 2023, Brazilian President Lula da Silva proposed creating a "peace group." We took Brazil's initiative under advisement.

                                                          Russia is open to resolving the conflict peacefully. However, our opponents in Kiev and the West are focused on promoting Zelensky's formula, which contains an unacceptable ultimatum for Russia, and flat out rejects other initiatives, including Brazil's. Before anything else, Kiev must lift its ban on dialogue with Moscow, which it has imposed on itself.

                                                          Question: Europe maintains a relative consensus with regard to supporting the Ukrainian government and its relations with the Russian Federation. How do you see future contacts between Moscow and European countries? Do you believe normalising relations is achievable in the near future?

                                                          Sergey Lavrov: The EU countries have imposed this enmity for Russia on themselves. It is up to them to decide how to go about this choice. Considering Brussels' determination to inflict a "strategic defeat" on us, talking about prospects for restoring relations is beside the point.

                                                          If the European countries drop their Russophobic policies and come up with realistic ideas regarding new principles of relations, we will consider them. Our decisions will be based on our national interests.

                                                          Question: The United States is at the height of a presidential race, and the main contest is likely to come down to two figures that are well-known in Moscow, President Biden and former President Donald Trump. Some analysts and even officials alluded that President Putin would rather see Donald Trump take the White House office and he may even get his wish in November, after which talks to end the Ukraine conflict could begin. I would like to know what you think about this speculation and ask you if the Kremlin indeed has a preferred candidate?

                                                          Sergey Lavrov: The ruling elite of the United States views Russia as an adversary and a threat regardless of party affiliation. The former president did nothing to improve Russia-US relations during his four-year stint in the White House.

                                                          We have no illusions and do not expect the anti-Russian course of the United States to change in the foreseeable future. We are prepared to work with any leader who wins the American people's trust. What matters to us is not specific political figures, but their policies towards Russia. President Putin made that clear recently in his televised interview.

                                                                        Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks at the G20 Ministerial Meeting on reforming global governance, Rio de Janeiro, February 22, 2024 (Выступление Министра иностранных дел С.В.Лаврова на министерской встрече «Группы двадцати» по реформированию глобального управления, Рио-де-Жанейро, 22 февраля 2024 г.) / Russia, February, 2024
                                                                        Keywords: brics+, sergey_lavrov, speech


                                                                        Maintaining the efficiency of international economic management is an invariable priority of the G20. In today's conditions of growing global challenges and threats, the need to reform the existing multilateral system, which no longer reflects modern reality, is obvious.

                                                                        The forming of a fair multipolar world order without a definite centre and periphery has become much more intensive in the past few years. Asian, African and Latin American countries are becoming important parts of the global economy. Not infrequently, they are setting the tone and the dynamics. In 2023, the BRICS countries' share in world GDP, in purchasing power parity, grew to 35 percent, exceeding the G7's share of 30.3 percent. According to the IMF's latest forecasts, the economic growth rates in the emerging market countries will be higher than the global average of 3.1 percent. It will be about 4.1 percent in 2024 and 4.2 percent in 2025. Many Western economies, especially in Europe, are actually stagnating against this background. These statistics are from Western-supervised institutions – the IMF, the World Bank and the OECD.

                                                                        These institutions are becoming relics from the past. Western domination is already affecting their ability to meet the requirements of the times. Meanwhile, it is perfectly obvious today that the current problems of humanity can only be resolved through a concerted effort and with due consideration for the interests of the Global South and, generally, all global economic realities.

                                                                        Unfortunately, the current efforts to reform global governance institutions have stalled. The Western countries want to maintain their dominance. The US is not ready to part with the IMF's blocking package or its main shareholder status. Washington is subverting the implementation of the 2010 agreement by the G20 leaders on ensuring broader representation from the developing nations in multilateral mechanisms. As a result, the Bretton Woods institutions are turning from professional venues into platforms for settling accounts and sponsoring the West's political clients to the detriment of the Global Majority's development prospects.

                                                                        Institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, the EBRD, and the EIB are prioritising Kiev's military and other needs. The West allocated over $250 billion to tide over its underling thus creating funding shortages in other parts of the world. Ukraine is taking up the bulk of the funds, relegating Africa and other regions of the Global South to rationing. The aid programme for Kiev, some $15.6 billion (577 percent of the quota), was approved in January 2023 and exceeds the six-month total of the loans provided by the IMF to all African countries.

                                                                        Countries that have discredited themselves by using unlawful acts ranging from unilateral sanctions and the seizure of sovereign assets and private property to blockades, embargoes, and discrimination against economic operators based on nationality to settle scores with their geopolitical opponents cannot be considered guarantors of financial stability. The collective West is left with one path to follow which is to acknowledge the new balance of power in the international arena and to cease obstructing the redistribution of voting quotas at the IMF and the World Bank, and using the WTO as a tool for unfair competition.

                                                                        Without a doubt, new institutions that focus on consensus and mutual benefit are needed to democratise the global economic governance system. Today, we are seeing positive dynamics for strengthening various alliances, including BRICS, the SCO, ASEAN, the African Union, LAS, CELAC, and the EAEU. Initiatives aimed at harmonising a variety of multilateral formats, including the Russian vision of the Greater Eurasian Partnership, are making headway as well. Clearly, the set of tools to enhance competitiveness and productivity in the global economy is expanding. Among them is the increasing percentage of transactions in national currencies, which now account for about 90 percent of our country's trade with its key partners. This is our response to the weaponising of the US dollar and other Western currencies to gain a competitive edge.

                                                                        This year, Russia chairs BRICS, which saw several new members join it. We will do our best to reinforce the potential of this association and its ties with the G20. In this context, we welcome our Brazilian friends' initiative to invite New Development Bank officials to attend G20 events. At the New Delhi summit, the G20 participants once again expressed unanimous support for "an increase in the voice and representation of developing countries and the establishment and improvement of a just international monetary system." We believe that this time these are not just empty words, but a commitment to start practical work.

                                                                        Many of our colleagues have discussed reforming the UN Security Council. The root of the problem is the same as with the Bretton Woods institutions. The developing countries are clearly underrepresented in decision-making processes. Considering that six of 15 UN Security Council members represent the Western bloc, we will support the expansion of this body solely through the accession of countries from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

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