Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 15.2019
2019.04.08 — 2019.04.14
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
SA at odds with world powers and Brics nations about Israel (ЮАР вступает в противоречие с мировыми державами и странами БРИКС с мнением об Израиле) / South Africa, April, 2019
Keywords: political_issues, expert_opinion
South Africa
Author: Rowan Polovin

There is something foul about SA's foreign policy. It stands continuously with the anti-Western bloc of dictators, fascists and human rights abusers. It has a horrendous track record of voting at the UN general assembly and the UN human rights council that is diametrically opposite to post-apartheid's values of freedom and nondiscrimination.

It votes against measures that sanction human rights abusers and praises the "diversity" of totalitarian dictatorships. It abstains on the appointment of a special rapporteur on violence against the LGBTI community and on resolutions condemning human rights abuses in Syria.

It keeps consistently but deafeningly silent about all the horrors and atrocities committed in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, as well as on the mistreatment of women, minorities and children. It sits Janus-faced on the international stage, facilitating the work of despots offshore while proclaiming the values of human rights back home.

There is but one country at which SA directs all its opprobrium and judgment. It is the most undeserving country of SA's hostility, but so targeted because the governing party irrationally believes this will win votes locally and power internationally.

The ANC is dangerously wrong on both accounts: hating Israel has never garnered it votes in any election, and targeting Israel internationally only isolates SA itself. It carries out an inverted foreign policy that bashes the Jew of nations and applauds the scoundrels. The ANC owes the public an explanation about why it does this.

Last week, international relations and co-operation minister Lindiwe Sisulu recklessly steered into dangerous territory when asked about SA's relations with Israel. She spoke of removing the SA ambassador to Israel and of kicking out the Israeli ambassador to SA. She even declared that the ANC will dictate university policy on Israel. She forgot about SA's esteemed constitution and rule of law, and that the ANC sits below, not above it.

Our constitution was carefully written by wise people who recognised that freedom of religion, speech, association and academia are fundamental values that ensure the longevity of a democratic state. Any unjust attempts to undermine those values, as Sisulu and her faction seem intent on doing, will unravel the very structures of the democratic state her predecessors fought for.

On the issue of cutting ties with Israel and allowing the antisemitic BDS fringe movement to capture foreign policy, Sisulu and the ANC should proceed with extreme caution. SA is focused on rebuilding its standing in the international community and to be taken seriously on international affairs.

While still a member of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA) bloc, it parts company with every other member on Israel. Every Brics country besides SA is constantly improving ties and friendships with the Jewish state. SA stands at odds with these world powers, including many African and Arab countries that work more closely than ever with Israel.

Moreover, SA needs Israel's help to solve local problems such as water scarcity, access to electricity and agricultural solutions that would take millions out of poverty and turn our deserts into fields of plenty. Millions of South Africans would not take kindly to their future being stolen by petty short-term interests. Nor will they appreciate the negative effect this will have on local job creation and our already struggling economy. Cutting out Israel only cuts out SA's future.

If SA attempts to throw out the Israeli ambassador, it will send a signal that it wishes to disconnect the proudly SA Jewish community from their spiritual, religious and historical homeland. The government should take heed that Jews will never allow their bond with the Jewish state to be broken. Nor will committed Christians, who make up the majority of SA's religious communities.

Anti-Semites may be pleased that their irrational hatred of Jews has resulted in a downgrade in relations with Israel, but the majority of South Africans will not be pleased with the uncertainty and instability it will bring.

It is time for principled business people, government officials, political parties and civil society to stand up to the ANC's desperate and hypocritical obsession with the Jewish state. Our future depends upon it.
What Did India's Foreign Secretary Achieve on His Trip to Russia? (Чего добился министр иностранных дел Индии во время своей поездки в Россию?) / India, April, 2019
Keywords: cooperation, political_issues, expert_opinion
Author: Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Recently, India's Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, the most senior bureaucrat in India's foreign ministry, completed a visit to Russia. The visit shed light on the ongoing collaboration between the two countries and the opportunities and challenges for the relationship.

Unsurprisingly, official accounts of the visit focused on areas of collaboration, most of it already ongoing. The Russian embassy release said that the two countries examined "cooperation within the BRICS format, the current issues of the key multilateral export control regimes, including New Delhi's application for NSG [Nuclear Suppliers Group] membership, other non-proliferation and arms control issues, as well as topical international issues of mutual interest."

The evolving situation in Afghanistan too was covered by the two leaders. The foreign secretary is reported to have also met Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov for Foreign Office Consultations, where they "reviewed the implementation of the decisions of the 19th Annual Bilateral Summit" between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin in 2018.

The two officials also discussed the upcoming high-level meetings, including India's participation at the Eastern Economic Forum. Putin has reportedly invited India to participate in the Forum, which is to take place in Vladivostok in September this year.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs press release on the visit characterized the meetings as "in-depth and productive, characteristic of the Special & Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia." The statement added, "The meetings resulted in enhanced mutual convergence and coordination of views on all major regional and international issues in the spirit of long standing and time-tested friendship between India and Russia."

Despite the ongoing collaboration in these areas, the visit, and the official accounts of it, belie the mixed nature of actual ties. In fact, while India and Russia have had a long and warm relationship historically and Russia remains an important strategic partner (it is one of only two countries India has an annual bilateral summit with, the other being Japan), structural trends are pulling them in different directions.

Part of it has to do with perceptions on both sides. On India's side, it can at times appear not to acknowledge the reality that Russia needs China far more than it needs India, and that its own diversification of partners in both the economic and security domains can also raise concerns in Moscow and complicate bilateral dealings. On Russia's side, there is at times not enough of an appreciation for India's strategic considerations, including its sensitivities toward China, as well as an acknowledgement that some of Moscow's foreign policy activities can cause headaches in New Delhi.

But developments have also accelerated these perceptions as well. Russia's adventurism abroad, including in Ukraine, China's rise and its increasing convergence with Russia as it does so, rising U.S. competition with both Beijing and Moscow as it has gradually warmed to New Delhi, and upped conversation on the Indo-Pacific and the divergent approaches by India and Russia have all contributed to this.

Seen from this perspective, it is arguably even more important to have visits such as the one we saw from Gokhale, in order for both sides to understand each other. But at the same time, it is also critical to distinguish between the rhetoric that comes out of the visits and the reality of the relationship, especially when the gap between the two can seem to be growing wider in some senses.
South Africa's 'new dawn' of international strategy («Новый рассвет» международной стратегии Южной Африки) / United Kingdom, April, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion
United Kingdom

After a troubled decade under President Zuma, South Africa is emerging to what new President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has dubbed a 'new dawn'. The new era showcases a fresh international strategy that seeks to capitalise on the country's various opportunities.

A New Dawn

Given South Africa's forthcoming national and provincial elections, this year will inevitably be dominated by domestic politics. For South Africa, 2019 poses fresh international opportunities (and challenges) to reposition itself as a credible voice in global affairs.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu's public postures in late 2018, shed light on how South Africa will position itself globally after the Autumn election. They have set out to recapture the country's moral authority and to re-acquire strategic global influence. South Africa's recent decision, at the United Nations General Assembly, to reverse its abstinence from voting to condemn the human rights abuses in Myanmar signals a decided reorientation in South Africa's foreign policy.

Ramaphosa's promise of a New Dawn transcends the preceding era and introduces a dynamic approach to policy. His active engagements with multilateral organisations and international partners showcase a renewed pursuit to advance South Africa's interests through international means. The President's charm offensive to garner foreign investment is aimed at bolstering the domestic economic project, tactically advancing his electoral drive.

Sisulu has established a Review Panel to work on institutional capacities and offering clearly defined policy objectives. The panel includes experienced old hands Aziz Pahad and Ayanda Ntsaluba, to implement Sisulu's turnaround foreign policy.

Ramaphosa's strategic skills on display

Ramaphosa's diplomatic and rhetorical skills were on full display during his maiden visit to the United Nations. He tactically deployed South Africa's most potent diplomatic weapon: the legacy of Madiba. Ramaphosa sought to assert international influence by unveiling a statue in commemoration of the revered global icon.

As the principal guest of the 'Nelson Mandela Peace Summit', convened on the eve of the annual general assembly last September, Ramaphosa evoked the overlap between Mandela's values and that of the United Nations. This was a clear attempt to re-position South Africa as a responsible global power, committed to upholding international law. This is important for the new administration who seek to distance themselves from the transgressive Zuma era. In doing so Ramaphosa leveraged Mandela's gravitas as an international statesman, advocating for a "more representative, equal and fair United Nations". Additionally, his call to "resist any and all efforts to undermine the multilateral approach" is calculated to a global order that is threatened by the United States' new unilateral policies.

Ramaphosa's endorsement to reform the United Nations and its Security Council claims an authoritative, independent vantage. It is from this vantage that South Africa has the most to gain. Unlike Zuma, who pursued national interests through narrow anti-Western tactics, Ramaphosa can advance the national interest and representative global governance by presenting a sovereign embodiment of international norms and values.

Strategic opportunities: The UNSC and BRICS

Increased discord among the United Nations Security Council's veto-bearing powers has opened significant influence for non-permanent members. South Africa rejoins the Security Council as a non-permanent member at a precarious and opportune time. Its seat at the table grants the opportunity to help steer and accomplish matters, thus far only been in discussion. For example the advocation of peace in Yemen and South Sudan.

The about-turn on the Myanmar vote is an encouraging sign indicating a social responsibility. Minister Sisulu has announced that votes will henceforth be cast individually and upon direction from the Executive. This circumvents an often recalcitrant diplomatic process and advances a foreign policy that serves the national interest.

Sisulu stated:

"We want to usher in a new era where South Africa can lift itself out of poverty and inequality and regain its stature in the world… We want South Africa to be once again a moral compass and a voice of reason in a world increasingly overcome with selfish, narrow interests".

A challenge for Ramaphosa's administration is how it seeks to benefit from BRICS. Instead of an anti-Western mechanism, BRICS is a cogent, cooperative association engendering representative global governance. It is evident through its initiatives that it seeks to reform, not a revolution, international order. As a member of this exclusive group, South Africa holds considerable leverage.

Responding to global instability, BRICS is building beyond its rhetorical form. BRICS Plus is an extension of the BRIC bloc construct to incorporate closely affiliated countries of bloc members. South Africa, through BRICS Plus, has the opportunity to assert its constitutional values and reconciliatory ethos.

Transcending "nine lost years" under Zuma

South Africa's seat at the Security Council and its membership to BRICS may reverse Zuma's narrow foreign policy.

An independent stance could grant South Africa greater international power, accelerating the tide towards an imminent multi-polar world order. South Africa's foreign policy appears to present an independent, middle ground in the fractured global disorder. Whilst the nation defends multilateralism (as seen in the UNSC), it searches for new opportunities to exert influence (through BRICS).

South Africa is emerging from what President Ramaphosa has called "nine lost years". A new, balanced sovereign strategy will not only promote South Africa's international interests but also assist to consolidate the domestic policy landscape as well.
After Brazil, India Might Be The Next BRICS Country Invited To Join NATO (После Бразилии Индия может стать следующей страной БРИКС, приглашенной в НАТО) / Russia, April, 2019
Keywords: NATO, expert_opinion, political_issues
Author: Andrew Korybko

Trump is poaching BRICS countries one by one, first extending an offer to Brazil to become a "Major Non-NATO Ally" and now a bipartisan group of American lawmakers wants him to do the same with India, a proposal that by its very nature proves that New Delhi was lying all along about wanting to "multi-align" between Great Powers while it was really just repeating the platitudes that the Russian "deep state" desperately needed to hear in order to be naively deceived while this game-changing pivot was taking place before their very eyes.

No sooner had Indian "thought leaders" just left Moscow after participating in a landmark "trust-building" conference hosted by the prestigious Valdai Club did the news emerge that a bipartisan group of American lawmakers proposed that the US designate India as a "Major Non-NATO Ally" (MNNA), contradicting whatever "reassurances" those "experts" gave their Russian hosts that India was wholly committed to its "neutral" policy of "multi-alignment" between Great Powers. If successfully promulgated into law, then India would be the second BRICS country invited to enter into an official strategic partnership with NATO after Brazil was offered the opportunity to become a MNNA during Bolsonaro's visit to DC last month. The hyperlinked piece in the last sentence connects to an article that I wrote at that time that also debunks the myth of BRICS, which the Alt-Media Community imagines to be some sort of legendary superstructure for dismantling the so-called "New World Order" even though the reality is a lot less "sexy".

One by one, Trump is poaching the BRICS countries and reducing the five-member bloc to its three-member RIC precursor prior to stripping it down to its RC core. The writing was on the wall for years that this was in the process of happening and I initially drew attention to it in a piece from May 2016 asking "Is India Now A US Ally?" in the run-up to the conclusion of the LEMOA deal that allows the US to use all of India's military facilities on a case-by-case "logistical" basis. The Indophile lobby all across the world and especially in Russia vehemently insisted that nothing of the sort was happening, being either cringingly naive or deliberately deceptive but with the end result being that many of Moscow's decision makers were misled into trusting India despite New Delhi obviously preparing for a game-changing pivot before their very eyes. Proverbially speaking, "the cat's out of the bag" with the new US legislative proposal and it's clear to see what India was up to this entire time.

The timing of this initiative couldn't have been better for Prime Minister Modi since it might boost his reelection prospects during the ongoing month-long electoral process and serve as a "good cop" counterpart to the US' recent "bad cop" one of calling his government out for lying about supposedly downing a Pakistani F-16 during the famous February dogfight. From the American perspective, clinching this accord could lock India into its military-industrial complex ecosystem and accelerate the country's redirection away from Russia and towards the West in this respect, powerfully undermining the "credibility" of its claims to "multi-alignment" and revealing them to have been nothing more than "wishful thinking" rhetoric purposely designed to deceive their intended Russian audience. The belated but inevitable realization of this fact will widen Russia's "deep state" fault lines and speed up the pace with which the influence of Kabulov's "Progressives" replaces that of the Indophile "Traditonalists" while also more quickly catalyzing a comprehensive breakthrough in the country's bilateral relations with the global pivot state of Pakistan.
BRICS, SCO and Kashmir Terrorism (БРИКС, ШОС и Кашмирский терроризм) / Russia, April, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, national_security, terrorism
Author: Alexey Kupriyanov

On February 14, 2019, a suicide bomber from the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist organization drove a car filled with explosives into a bus that was transporting members of the Indian security forces, killing over 40 people. India immediately accused Pakistan of being behind the attack and started a "diplomatic offensive" against Islamabad similar to the one of it launched in September 2016 when it attempted to isolate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism, make it a rogue state and thus force the country's leadership to abandon its support of Kashmir militants. This offensive is being waged on all fronts, including at international organizations, for example, BRICS, whose final declarations at its summits in recent times have regularly featured items on fighting terror.

BRICS and Terrorism

Up until 2017, the issue of fighting terror was virtually absent from the BRICS agenda, even though India had regularly attempted to put it up for consideration and record the results in official documents. This was due primarily to the specifics of the positions taken by India and China: while New Delhi viewed the issue as mostly a regional matter, trying to get the Pakistan-based groups carrying out terrorist attacks in the Indian part of Kashmir condemned, Beijing, as an ally of Islamabad, blocked New Delhi's attempts to declare Pakistan responsible for the terrorist attacks and generally hindered any initiatives that could be seen as directed against Pakistan. Even at the 2016 Goa Summit held soon after the attack on the army brigade headquarters in Uri that left 19 people dead, China, according to the Indian media, blankly refused to have the final resolution declare Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist organizations. The document mentions only Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State and addresses the need to fight terrorism in Afghanistan.

However, China unexpectedly changed its stance in 2017. At the Xiamen summit, Beijing supported India's proposal to include a provision condemning terrorism in the final declaration. The declaration expressed concern over the situation in the region and mentioned the threat posed by terrorist groups such as the Taliban, Islamic State/DAESH, Al-Qaida and other organizations associated with it, such as the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Haqqani network. India interpreted this as a major diplomatic success. Apparently, China pursued two goals: first, to hold its "A Stronger Partnership for a Better Future" summit successfully and without any incidents; second, to show India that it was ready to defuse tensions and willing to embark on a rapprochement following the Dolam incident that had taken place a few months prior.

Islamabad was concerned about China's support for India's statements. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that Pakistan needs "to break our false image […] We need to accept the history and correct ourselves." Asif noted that "We need to tell our friends that we have improved our house. We need to bring our house in order to prevent facing embarrassment [sic] on an international level."

The stance taken by China and the statements made by Asif raised hopes in India. Soon, however, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China Wang Yi made it clear that no changes had taken place in China's stance on Pakistan: Beijing still views Islamabad as a victim of terrorism, not as a sponsor, and China supports and highly values Pakistan's efforts to fight militants. Significantly, Weidong Sun, China's Ambassador to Pakistan, emphasized that the BRICS declaration listed only those organizations that had already been prohibited in Pakistan. It soon became clear that China had not changed its stance when it again blocked adding Masood Azhar, leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, to the list of terrorists during UN Security Council votes.

Nonetheless, at BRICS summits, India continued to focus on the issue of fighting terrorism and succeeded in having it included in every final declaration. The document released at the conclusion of the 2018 summit in Johannesburg stated, "We call upon all nations to adopt a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism, which should include countering radicalisation, recruitment, travel of Foreign Terrorist Fighters, blocking sources and channels of terrorist financing including, for instance, through organised crime by means of money-laundering, supply of weapons, drug trafficking and other criminal activities, dismantling terrorist bases, and countering misuse of the Internet by terrorist entities." The same year, following the informal meeting of BRICS leaders at the G20 summit, a media statement was released stating, "We deplore continued terrorist attacks, including against some BRICS countries. We condemn terrorism in all forms and manifestations […] We urge concerted efforts to counter terrorism under the UN auspices on a firm international legal basis."

Finally, the terrorist attack in Pulwama led Brazil, the current President of BRICS, to confirm at the BRICS Sherpa meeting in Curitiba on March 14–15 its intention to make fighting terrorism one of the organization's priorities. The Indian delegation supported this initiative, calling upon all BRICS countries to engage in closer cooperation on the issue.

India's proposal to consistently mention the fight against terrorism in BRICS declarations raises certain questions: To what degree is BRICS suitable as a platform for discussing anti-terrorist initiatives? And can breakthroughs in this area be achieved within BRICS?


When India and Pakistan were admitted to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in June 2017, it seemed it would replace BRICS as the principal platform for discussing regional security issues. The SCO has several major advantages over BRICS in that regard: first, it includes, either as members or as observers, all major regional actors; and it is far better structured and suited to serve as a venue for proposing initiatives on fighting terrorism. The SCO has a special body intended to coordinate relevant activities, the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS). The experience of RATS gave grounds for optimism: within RATS, Russia, China and the Central Asian states successfully coordinated efforts to fight cross-border terrorist groups.

However, the experience of the past 18 months has shown that while RATS worked smoothly in the "group of six" format, it was entirely unfit to coordinate the activities of the national security services of India and Pakistan, which openly accused each other of supporting terrorism. Essentially, the issue of terrorist groups being active in South Asia was taken off RATS' table. On the one hand, this allowed both the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure and the SCO as a whole to avoid paralysis during another flareup of the India–Pakistan crisis. On the other hand, it called into question its value as a body coordinating the anti-terrorist activities of all the SCO member states. The national security services of India and Pakistan proved unable to latch onto the "Shanghai spirit" that is often mention in connection with the SCO, and it would be difficult to expect things to develop otherwise: essentially, these two states are locked in a permanent war with each other.

The problem, in this case, is systemic in nature, and it can hardly be resolved at any other venue, be it BRICS, the United Nations or any other regional organization. When India talks about fighting terrorism, it does not mean some abstract terrorism, but rather the very specific terrorism in Kashmir that is fuelled by Pakistan. In this regard, non-regional BRICS member states, such as Brazil and South Africa, are only capable of providing moral support for India.

"The Wall of China" for India

In this connection, it would be wise to consider the ways in which India could achieve its goal through diplomatic manoeuvres.

Currently, whatever diplomatic means India uses to try and influence Pakistan, it inevitably runs into the "wall of China": without China's help and support, India cannot exert enough pressure on Pakistan to induce it to stop supporting Kashmir separatists. The importance of China's position for the Pakistani authorities is demonstrated by the example of Asif and the final declaration of the Xiamen summit. However, India can gain this help and support only if collaboration with India becomes more important for China than collaboration with Pakistan, which is hard to achieve given the profound mistrust between the political elites of India and China and India's desire to preserve strategic autonomy. Clearly, India will never become closer to China than Pakistan is, since the latter is essentially a client state of China. Consequently, the only way for India is to become an important trade partner for China so that their economic rapprochement would neutralize the political rapprochement between China and Pakistan. Excessive pressure on Pakistan is equally unacceptable for China, as it could result in the ascendancy in the Pakistan leadership of groups that are geared towards the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf.

India can achieve certain success at international venues, including the SCO. But this would require more active participation on the part of Russia as a country that is equally close to China and India, as well as the complete reformatting of the activities of RATS to account for the specifics of India–Pakistan relations and the transition from "Shanghai principles" to "Shanghai rules." This, in turn, requires reciprocal steps by India and Pakistan, which do not want to internationalize their conflict. Without a certain level of international intervention (at least monitoring the situation in Kashmir), the SCO's activities will be reduced to traditional condemnations of terrorism and the activities of terrorist groups, without any specific steps being taken.

Finally, an extremely unlikely scenario in which New Delhi achieves a direct peace agreement with Islamabad without Beijing's participation is also possible. However, relations in the India–Pakistan–China triangle are such that Beijing's help will make it much easier to convince Islamabad to make concessions.

It could thus be concluded that the role of BRICS as a platform for coordinating anti-terrorist activities essentially duplicates the role of the SCO, especially when the latter distanced itself from intervening in fighting terrorism in South Asia. If the SCO plans to retain its standing as the key regional organization, including in the fight against terrorism, it needs to radically reconsider the mechanism of anti-terrorist cooperation within the SCO, starting, for instance, by drawing up a combined list of terrorist organizations, something that the SCO has thus far failed to do.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Medupi's R6.8bn New Development Bank injection and other BRICS climate crimes (Инъекция НБР в Medupi в размере 6,8 млрд. рандов и другие климатические преступления БРИКС) / South Africa, April, 2019
Keywords: ecology, economic_challenges, ndb
South Africa

Although the $480-million project loan from the New Development Bank for the completion of Medupi has been dubbed 'clean technology', it will up the carbon footprint of one of the world's largest and most expensive coal-fired power plants. This would be more surprising if four of the BRICS nations, including South Africa, hadn't been pivotal to a backroom climate deal at Copenhagen in 2009 that removed binding emission reduction targets for every country on Earth. So what else can we thank the BRICS bank for?

I. Undisclosed

"A resounding success."

This, in a nutshell, was how Finance Minister Tito Mboweni viewed the fourth annual meeting of the New Development Bank (NDB), held in Cape Town from 31 March to 2 April 2019. The phrase was used in the first sentence of the press release sent out within minutes of the meeting's wrap-up, with the excitement located primarily in the fact that three of the five new projects approved for funding by the NDB board were South African. As regards the largest of these projects, the press release stated this:

"Eskom: In line with its focus on supporting clean energy in South Africa, the NDB will provide a $480-million project loan to Eskom for (an) environmental protection project for (the) Medupi Thermal Power Plant."

And so, at a cost overrun of 200%, with a history of tender fraud that involved the ANC's investment arm Chancellor House and the lending collusion of the World Bank — not to mention the 32 million tons of carbon dioxide (C02) that would be spewed into the atmosphere every year, a figure that would place it on par with the national emission total of oil-soaked Angola — there was no longer any doubt: Medupi would be built and funded to completion.

But what did our finance ministry mean by "clean energy" and an "environmental protection project"? Had the devastation of Cyclone Idai, the strongest warning yet that African governments needed to faceup to the realities of climate change, finally roused the policymakers in Pretoria? Was Medupi now headed for a long bath with real soap, a technological scrubbing that would drastically reduce its emissions and restore it to climate purity?

It appears not.

"The proposed project includes retrofitting Medupi with flue gas desulphurisation units to achieve compliance with the requirements of South Africa's environmental legislations," noted the NDB on its website, after insisting — in the same paragraph — that South Africa had "abundant coal resources" and a government that fostered "green growth". These units, the bank stated, would reduce the sulphur dioxide (S02) emissions of the power plant from 3,500 milligrams per cubic metre to below 500 milligrams per cubic metre.

Which was great as far as SO2, a nasty-smelling toxin with the capacity to cause severe respiratory problems, was concerned. Like South Africa's finance ministry, however, the NDB neglected to mention that SO2 was not considered a direct greenhouse gas by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. To dip briefly and necessarily into the science, here was what the Centre for Environmental Rights, Earthlife Africa and Groundwork had told South Africans about flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) in a report released in February 2019:

"Using wet FGD — a mixture of limestone (powder) and water — C02 emissions per unit of power sent out increase by 1-2%, depending on the sulphur content of the coal. Dry and semi-dry FGD processes require lime or hydrated lime because a greater reactivity is required, and the sorbent-to-S02 ratio is significantly higher compared to wet FGD. At temperatures below 900°C, no C02 is released and there is no increase in C02 emissions due to the FGD process itself. But both lime and hydrated lime are produced by the process of calcining (heating) limestone, which releases C02. Dry or semi-dry FGD processes using lime or hydrated lime as sorbents will result in an overall increase in C02 emissions, probably by 2%-3%, if the lifecycle of the process is considered."

In other words, while the NDB's $480-million (R6.8-billion) intervention would reduce the potential for acid rain and bring welcome relief to asthmatics in Medupi's immediate vicinity, when it came to the existential threats posed by climate change — threats already reflected in the rising incidences of domestic violence in South Africa's drought-affected communities, for instance, or the impossible choicesbetween starvation and dying of disease in Beira, Mozambique — it would only make the problem worse.

As a reminder, as far as the burning of fossil fuels went, science had first pointed to the human role in the warming planet back in 1896, with papers already starting to appear in the late 1930s linking rising CO2levels to the changing climate. But by early 2019, with wildfires in North America, droughts in Australia, tropical storms in Africa and floods in Europe delivering the chaos that had long been predicted, CO2emissions from our dependence on fossil fuels were hitting record highs.

Which begged the question: Why was Finance Minister Mboweni, who was also serving as chairman of the board of governors of the NDB — a bank launched in 2015 by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS bloc) to act as an alternative to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund — framing this project as "clean energy"? Jim Yong Kim, after all, the World Bank's former president, had exposed himself as a climate perjurer on the very same point in 2012, when on a visit to South Africa he'd spoken about Medupi in terms of "clean coal".

The answer may have less to do with Mboweni himself, whose championing of the carbon tax has set him apart from all other members of the South African executive, than with the inner workings of contemporary geopolitics. As it turned out, this wasn't the first time that members of the BRICS bloc had betrayed their kinship with the nations and institutions they were pretending to offset.

II. Unbound

"The key moment at Copenhagen was when President Barack Obama burst into a room where the leaders of Brazil, South Africa, India and China were meeting in private," we read on page 65 of the climate classic Power in a Warming World, "and together the group of five nations set aside the existing negotiating texts entirely and drafted their own deal. The draft mentioned the goal of keeping global mean temperatures under a 2°C rise, but they avoided any binding emissions reduction targets to achieve that and any mention of the time when perilously rising emissions would peak and begin to fall."

By this indisputable account, then, the date when BRICS was forever compromised by the G7 was 8 December 2009, at COP15 in Denmark. Before then, as per the Kyoto Protocol, there were binding national commitments based on set levels of emissions. Internationally acclaimed activist and author Andreas Malm, who has faced down riot squads and water cannons at dozens of climate protests over the years — the same man who coined the phrase "fossil capitalism" — had this to say about what changed at Copenhagen:

"The EU, the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, the whole global architecture of neoliberal institutions is replete with mechanisms for punishing countries that fail to honour their obligations, but on this particular issue — averting cataclysmic breakdown of the biosphere as we know it — there shall be freedom."

Leaving the ideology out of it (Malm, to be sure, is an avowed socialist), such facts speak for themselves. Nations can now decide what contributions they would like to make for meeting global emissions targets, and they can submit their own timelines for doing so — a voluntary programme, Malm pointed out, that's akin to saying "if bankers can choose whether to pay taxes or not, more of them will".

The upshot, according to the authors of Power in a Warming World, is that the arbitrary and free-floating pledges of the world's governments have condemned us all to a temperature rise of between 3.5°C and 4.5°C, which happens to be roughly what the journal Nature is predicting by 2100 if emissions continue on their current track. For South Africans, who will continue to experience warming at twice the global average, such temperatures will mean nothing short of a climate holocaust.

So why did the four BRICS members, who Barack Obama had astutely identified as the pivotal players in Copenhagen, turn their backs on the island states and smaller developing nations that were least to blame but most vulnerable to the portended catastrophes? Power in a Warming World provides the cross-referenced and footnoted answer. The authors refer to these four countries as the "emerging emissions powers" who saw "more value in working together than in being tethered to their former peers".

By joining forces, they note, these "growing giants" could more easily resist pressures from both industrialised nations and the LDCs (least developed countries) to reduce their emissions, thereby ensuring that their carbon-intensive development agendas could proceed unimpeded.

What's more, irrespective of the countless innocents that would be lost down the line, the four giants were now playing a version of realpolitik where the truth could be hidden in plain sight. In October 2015, in the lead-up to COP21 in Paris, a South African career diplomat by the name of Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko found herself in the role of lead negotiator for a grouping of more than 130 developing nations and China.

"It is just like apartheid," she said into the microphone, after discovering that the draft text of her "climate rescue pact" had been subjected to an unsolicited edit. "We find ourselves in a position where in essence (the poor) are disenfranchised."

Today, instead of having been cast out into the wilderness for such honesty, Mxakato-Diseko is still South Africa's ambassador-at-large for climate change.

As for Russia, the only BRICS nation that wasn't in the room in Copenhagen that day, one needed to look no further than the two loans the NDB had granted Moscow since its inception. At the University of Johannesburg on the afternoon of 3 April 2019, Ilya Matveev of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in St Petersburg gave us an insight into the larger of these loans — the $300-million for a petrochemical plant in the Tyumen region, operated by Sibur, and classified as "sustainable infrastructure".

"It's not clear what's sustainable about it," Matveev told the gathered academics, who had come for the Gauteng leg of the national roadshow that had been set up to coincide with the NDB's annual meeting in Cape Town.

"First of all, it's in the fossil fuel industry. Secondly, the point of this plant is to produce plastics. So plastics may have different applications, but at least some of those produced by this plant will be single-use. The next interesting thing about this project is the company that operates this petrochemical plant."

Sibur, Matveev explained, is a prime example of "crony capitalism" in Russia, a company that's "one of the most tightly controlled by the Putin regime". Its largest shareholder at 48.5%, Leonid Mikhelson, is Russia's wealthiest individual, whose personal fortune of $23.6-billion is linked in the main to his stake in the natural gas behemoth Novatek. Mikhelson's partner in both Novatek and Sibur is Gennady Timchenko — known to be a close friend of President Vladimir Putin — who owns 17% of the petrochemicals conglomerate.

Aside from management at 10%, the other major shareholders in Sibur, at 10% each, are China's Sinopec and Silk Road Fund, the latter of which is intimately connected to the Belt and Road Initiative, the world's largest development project — with climate and environmental consequences for Africa that Daily Maverick has reported on at length.

Then there's Kiril Shamalov, Putin's former son-in-law, who became the youngest billionaire in Russia when, in a non-transparent deal, he acquired a 20% stake in Sibur soon after his marriage to Putin's eldest daughter. According to Matveev, as the son of Nikolai Shamalov — another of Putin's close friends — he got to keep 3.9% of the company after the divorce.

As per the NDB's own documentation, the approval date for the $300-million loan to Sibur was 18 September 2018, when all of this had long been a matter of public record. Matveev's assertion that the petrochemical plant would be the largest in Russia was backed up by the NDB's statement that, once fully operational, "the complex would cover Russia's demand for most polyolefins and increase export capacity of Russia's petrochemicals sector".

Like the $480-million loan to Eskom in South Africa, the NDB had framed its advance to Sibur in terms of "environmental protection" — mainly because a portion of the funds, not stipulated, had been set aside for "wastewater treatment facilities". But while the loan had been "classified as category A in accordance with the NDB's Environment and Social Framework (ESF)," nowhere in the document could one find the phrase "single-use plastics" or "carbon footprint".

III. Unrepentant

In his epoch-defining The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, which the New York Times recently compared to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring — a book that singlehandedly launched the environmental movement in the early 1960s — journalist David Wallace-Wells made the following observation about Russia and climate change:

"Putin, the commandant of a petro-state that also happens to be, given its geography, one of the few nations on Earth likely to benefit from continued warming, sees basically no benefit to constraining carbon emissions or greening the economy — Russia's or the world's."

In this light, the allegation of "tokenism," by which Matveev characterised the other loan granted Russia by the NDB — $100-million for a "renewable energy" hydropower plant in the Karelia region — seemed to carry some weight.

Can the same be said of the $560-million that the NDB has earmarked in the past two weeks for the renewables sector in South Africa?

The sum — comprised of "up to" $300-million to the Development Bank of South Africa for investment in wind, solar and biomass projects; $180-million to Eskom for the integration of 670 megawatts of renewable power into the national grid; and $80-million to the Industrial Development Corporation for on-lending to renewable energy sub-projects — is significant. If South Africa wasn't the largest greenhouse gas emitter in Africa, if our "abundant coal resources" weren't openly celebrated by the NDB, if the number wasn't dwarfed by what the local taxpayer was pouring into the subsidisation of fossil fuels, this R7.9-billion in kick-start funding to the renewables sector might have looked a lot more "clean".

Lest we forget, as recently as mid-March 2019, we heard from Eskom's chairperson Jabu Mabuza that the power utility was considering abandoning Medupi and its sister plant Kusile. The R300-billion cost of construction for the plants, double their original budgets, had rendered them the most expensive coal-fired power projects in the world, and Eskom — as per Mabuza — had been conducting an exercise to look into the effect on the utility's financial situation (that is, its debt of R419-billion) of "not completing" construction.

But again, on the afternoon of 3 April 2019, less than 24 hours after the finance ministry had declared the NDB annual meeting a "resounding success," Mabuza announced that Medupi and Kusile were back on. Supported by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, the presentation listed Eskom's objectives, the first of which was "to be transparent and frank with South Africans".

As this was happening in a conference room at the Lethabo Power Station in the rural Free State, Matveev was finishing up his address at the University of Johannesburg. He was followed on stage by Ranjinta Mohanty, an author from Delhi, and Brian Mier, a correspondent for TeleSUR in Sao Paulo, who gave us their take on the human rights abuses and environmental crimes that had been perpetrated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and President Jair Bolsanaro of Brazil.

"How does this relate to the BRICS?" Mier asked, after showing us a video of the groundswell of support for former president Luiz Lula da Silva, who had been imprisoned by the Bolsanaro regime for corruption in early 2018 (a similar video would air on Al Jazeera on 8 April 2019, to commemorate Lula's first year in prison).

"Lula was leading in all polls in the presidential race last year (2018), promising to re-nationalise petroleum and to reverse the austerity measures that were enacted after the coup. He was illegally taken out the race."

Mier's argument, which leaned on the fact that the United Nations Human Rights Committee had ruledthat Lula should not be prevented from running in the 2018 Brazilian elections — given that he had been arrested before his appeals process had been completed — placed the carbon economy front and centre. If a BRICS leader wasn't amenable to the burning of fossil fuels for private gain, the reasoning went, such a leader couldn't serve.

Was it really that simple? The evidence was hard to refute. Xi, Modi, Putin, Bolsanaro, Ramaphosa — all were presiding over countries that were among the top 14 emitters in the world according to the Global Carbon Atlas, with China, India and Russia occupying three of the top five places, and Brazil and South Africa leading their respective continents.

"When the NDB started dishing out money, they forgot about their own cut-and-paste social and environmental frameworks," said Earthlife Africa's Makoma Lekalakala, winner of the 2018 Goldman Prize for her role in scuppering the South African government's secret $76-billion nuclear deal with Russia, who got up to speak after Mier.

"The projects they are funding are climate-destroying projects." DM

The BRICs were supposed to take over the global economy. What happened? (Страны БРИКС должны были захватить мировую экономику. Что случилось?) / United States, April, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
United States
Author: Tala Hadavi

The BRIC acronym was coined by Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O'Neill in 2001. He predicted four emerging economies — Brazil, Russia, India and China — were on their way to reshape the world economy.

Opponents said the countries were too different culturally and socially to be grouped together and that ultimately, it was a Goldman Sachs marketing ploy.

Still, in the first decade, the countries met all expectations and beyond. Investment banks, think tanks and academia capitalized on the successes and everyone was talking about BRIC. In 2010, the group added South Africa, making its acronym BRICS.

The countries went from less than 20% of the world's GPD in 2003 to about 30% 10 years later. China and India were growing exponentially, while rising commodity prices kept Brazil and Russia in good pace to meet O'Neill's predictions.

But shortly after the financial crisis, external factors combined with serious internal turmoil proved too much for the group. While China and India are growing steadily today, Russia and Brazil have gone in the opposite direction.

The Future of Economic Growth (Будущее экономического роста) / China, April, 2019
Keywords: economic_challenges, expert_opinion
Author: Jim O'Neill

Given the failures to foresee the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent weak recovery, it is easy to think that economists have little to offer in the way of predictions. But when it comes to national-level GDP growth, past projections have largely been borne out; even when wrong, they can be used to diagnose structural problems.

MANCHESTER – Last month, I wrote about the growing divide between economic theory and real-world economic conditions, and reminded readers that economics is still a social science, despite whatever loftier ambitions its practitioners may have. Nonetheless, when it comes to the specific question of what drives economic growth in the long term, one can still offer rigorous predictions by focusing on just two forces.

Specifically, if one knows how much a country's working-age population will grow (or shrink), and how much its productivity will increase, one can predict its future growth with considerable confidence. The first variable is reasonably predictable from a country's retirement and death rates; the second is more uncertain. Indeed, the reported slowdown in productivity across advanced economies since 2008 is widely regarded as an economic mystery.

Is it really a mystery, though? Consider the following table, which shows GDP growth since the 1980s for the larger economies, the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), and the "Next Eleven" (N-11) most populous developing countries.

With the fourth column (2011-2020) showing what my colleagues and I had projected back in 2001 when we coined the BRIC acronym, one can observe differences between what was forecast and what has happened this decade (2011-2017*). For the world as a whole, we predicted growth of just over 4% in the current decade, owing to the rise of China and the other major BRICs. And it is precisely for that reason that growth in the 2001-2010 period was stronger than in the preceding decades, when the persistence of 3.3% annual growth led some economists to conclude that the global economy had reached its full potential.

Now consider what has actually happened. Growth in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, China, and (arguably) India has come close to what we predicted. But the same cannot be said for the eurozone, Brazil, and Russia, whose poor performance must reflect weak productivity, given that our predictions had already accounted for demographic trends.

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It is worth noting that no major country or region has performed better than we predicted back in 2001. The table shows that there can be some asymmetry between actual and potential growth, and that such divergences are not random. On the contrary, the eurozone, Brazil, and Russia clearly have underlying problems that need to be addressed.

Of course, we also may have been too optimistic about these economies' long-term potential in the first place. Such is the nature of a social science. Whether any of them can achieve strong productivity growth will depend on a variety of factors, not least the policies they have in place. At this point, it would be a pleasant surprise if any of them achieved the level of growth that we predicted for 2021-30.

It is also worth noting that the US and the UK registered growth close to the level we predicted despite their weak productivity gains, owing to the rapid increase in employment in both countries. But with the unemployment rate having reached near-historic lows, and with public policy turning against immigration, it will be mathematically impossible to achieve the same level of employment growth in the decade ahead. For overall growth to continue, productivity must improve.

When it comes to the next decade, much of the focus lately has been on China, whose current slowdown seems to have taken markets by surprise. It should not have. As we predicted almost 20 years ago, China will struggle to attain growth above 5% in the 2021-2030 period, for the simple reason that its workforce growth will have peaked. While pessimists will no doubt find validation in the further Chinese growth disappointments that are to come, optimists can point to the fact that 5% annual growth in China is nominally equivalent to 15-20% growth in Germany. At this stage in China's development, faster growth would actually be quite extraordinary.

It is equally predictable that India will start to grow at a much faster rate than China, simply because its workforce still has a lot of growing left to do. The real question is whether India can implement strong productivity-enhancing reforms. If it can, it could be the one major economy to exceed expectations in the next decade. But even failing that, India will soon overtake the UK and France to become the world's fifth-largest economy; it will overtake Germany at some point in the next decade, possibly by 2025.

Meanwhile, unless Brazil and Russia reduce their dependence on the commodity-price cycle, they will only ever experience strong growth during price spikes. With or without reform, Russia is already heading for another disappointing decade as a result of its demographics. Brazil, on the other hand, could register growth close to what we originally predicted if it could implement difficult social and health reforms. But that is a big "if."

As for the eurozone, we appear to have been too optimistic, even though we foresaw a decline in potential growth to 1.5%. Nowadays, most forecasters put the region's growth potential at around 1%. If Germany cannot shift to a more domestic-demand-driven growth model, that projection will probably turn out to be correct. Yet while most press coverage has focused on Germany's falling exports and manufacturing output, the country's services sector remains strong. For its own sake as well as for Europe's, Germany should embrace that strength permanently.

Among the loose assortment of N-11 countries – most of them in Asia and Africa – are some fast growers like Vietnam. Others, especially Nigeria, have remarkable potential given their demographics, but will never reach it unless they undertake significant reforms. In that, they have something in common with many of the advanced economies.
Brics Bank want to become bond player (Брикс Банк хочет стать игроком на рынке облигаций) / South Africa, April, 2019
Keywords: ndb, economic_challenges
South Africa
Author: Justin Brown

The Brics Bank wants to become a multibillion-rand player in the South African bond market now that it has received a top-end credit rating and approval to issue bonds in the local market.

The bank, formally known as the New Development Bank (NDB), has the governments of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa as its members.

NDB CFO Leslie Maasdorp said this week during an interview in Cape Town, where the bank was holding its fourth annual meeting: "Our intention is to become a big and frequent issuer in South Africa [of rand-denominated bonds]. We believe South Africa has very deep and liquid bond markets."

Providing local currency funding wasn't common to all the multilateral development banks, he said.

"Local currency financing is an important strategic decision of the NDB. In addition to US dollars, we will also raise and lend local currency. Ultimately, we want to give the borrowers the option to decide whether they are more comfortable with local currency.

"The reason why local currency is preferred in many instances is because the revenue from projects like a toll road or a power station is typically in local currency."

In South Africa, the NDB will be issuing a R3.3 billion loan for the Lesotho Highlands Water Project as a rand-denominated bond.

The other project is a loan of R1.1 billion to the Industrial Development Corporation for a renewable energy project.

"In respect of our local bond programme we will raise between R3 billion and R5 billion in the South African market."

The NDB is likely to issue rand-denominated bonds in 12 to 16 weeks, which means that the bond issue is likely to take place in the first part of the second half of 2019.

The bank is likely to issue local currency-denominated bonds in Russia and India later this year.

Maasdorp said that the bank had applied to the JSE for an inward listing of its rand-denominated bonds. "We have applied for a R10 billion programme and received approval to proceed."

As part of the bond issue, Standard Bank has been appointed the lead arranger while Absa has been appointed as a co-arranger.

National Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane said in reaction to the news that the NDB would issue up to R10 billion in rand-denominated bonds in the local market: "It is something that we welcome and something that we will encourage."

Maasdorp said: "We feel very confident about the local market because the bank has one of the highest credit ratings of any issue in South Africa. We have an AA+ international credit rating from S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings."

An AA+ rating is one notch below AAA, which is the highest credit rating that S&P and Fitch can assign.

S&P didn't assign the NDB the top credit rating due to concerns regarding the fact that the bank's shareholders were concentrated in and limited to five national governments. In addition, all five countries have credit ratings that are lower than AA+.

S&P also noted that the NDB didn't have a long track record of "strong repayment behaviour and preferred creditor treatment from borrowing countries".

"An increase in shareholders would help the NDB to fulfil its mandate across a wider geographical scale and could support its key policy role, as well as reduce credit risk concentration," S&P said when it issued its first rating of the NDB's creditworthiness in August last year.

S&P added that it would upgrade its assessment of the NDB's credit rating if the bank substantially increased the geographical scope of its operations through the increase of its shareholders "with more than token stakes".

An AA+ rating compares with the BB long-term foreign-currency credit rating that S&P has assigned South African government debt.

The credit rating of the NDB is 10 notches above the credit rating of the South African government, which means that the NDB will be able to offer much lower interest rates on the rand bonds it will issue in the South African market than the bonds that the South Africa government can issue.

The NDB will raise the money for its rand-denominated bonds from local South African investors.

"We expect a very large appetite from domestic banks. The big banks will be a big component of the buyers of our bonds."

Regarding the interest rate that the NDB would achieve on its rand bonds, Maasdorp said that the interest rate would be one of the lowest in the local market, but wasn't able to comment further.

The NDB issued its first local currency bond in China on February 22 and 25. The bond was to the value of three billion renminbi.

"We have already had exchanges with investors in the past and we've contacted the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa," said Maasdorp.

"Investors are very excited about our entry into the market as it allows them diversification opportunities."

The NDB has loaned South African government parastatals $1.5 billion and is aiming to lend a further $800 million to reach a total loan value of $2.3 billion by the end of this year.

Regarding the possibility of new member countries joining the NDB, Maasdorp said that the institution was always created as a global bank.

In the long term, the Brics countries would dilute their equity from 20% each to 11% each for a total stake of at least 55% for the five Brics nations.

Then a 25% stake would go to other emerging markets and 20% to development countries.

"The bank will definitely expand. What will it look like? It will be a more emerging-market-focused bank. Eighty percent of the bank will always be controlled by emerging markets."
BRICS Enterprise Council resolves to assist develop economic system (Совет предприятий БРИКС принял решение содействовать развитию экономической системы) / China, April, 2019
Keywords: economic_challenges, sustainable_development

BRICS Business Council members vowed to do more to promote economic growth in their countries during their mid-term meeting.

"We are part of the machinery to facilitate business and trade and promote investment in our countries," said BRICS Business Council South Africa Chapter Chairperson Busi Mabuza.

"We want to continue to bring confidence into our economies, … have a bigger role to advise governments and make positive contributions to the economic growth," said Mabuza.

Mabuza also said there is a need to remove trade barriers like visa requirements to ensure BRICS could seize opportunities. "A lot have been done but a lot still need to be done," she added.

"BRICS Business Council is doing important work in practical business cooperation for our countries," said South African Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies in a video to the meeting.

Lu Yimin, BRICS Business Council China Chapter representative, said that BRICS countries should guard against the increasing momentum of isolationist practices, inward looking, protectionism and anti-globalization sentiments.

"We will continue to fight for practical cooperation to promote inclusive economic globalization," he said.

Established in 2013, the BRICS Business council aims to promote business, trade and investment ties among the five BRICS countries.

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's meeting with students, auditors, professors and instructors at the Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic Academy, Moscow, April 12, 2019 (Выступление Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова в ходе встречи со студентами, слушателями и профессорско-преподавательским составом Дипломатической академии МИД России, Москва, 12 апреля 2019 года) / Russia, April, 2019
Keywords: mofa, lavrov, speech

Colleagues and friends,

Auditors and students,

I'm glad about this new meeting, which has become a tradition, all the more so since it is taking place in the year of the 85th anniversary of the Diplomatic Academy.

During this period the academy has proved its effectiveness, preparing a wide range of experts in international affairs. Alongside MGIMO University, it remains the main source of personnel for our country's foreign service. I would also like to make a pointed reference to the efforts of professors and instructors to carry out upgrading courses for the staff of the Russian Foreign Ministry, many other Russian departments and foreign diplomats who regularly build on their education and skills at the academy. This is also a very important part of our work that is very popular with the diplomatic corps in Moscow and our colleagues who work for foreign policy agencies abroad.

Naturally, I would like to note the high quality of the analytical materials produced by the academy. We use information and reference materials, analytical and forecasting reports prepared by the academy.

This intellectual work and the constant focus on it are particularly important today when the world is undergoing tectonic shifts without exaggeration. They are happening very quickly. We must monitor them and try to understand where they are headed. Their common vector points to the need to consolidate multilateral relations and a polycentric international order. Its foundations are taking shape today. No doubt, this will be a long period historically, but it is already in full swing. New centres of economic growth, financial power and political influence are emerging. The GDP of the Asian-Pacific Region (APR) by purchasing power parity has more than doubled in the past 20 years – from 15.9 percent to 37.7 percent of the global total. At the same time, it is clear that the Western liberal development model that, among other things, implied ceding part of national sovereignty (it is in this vein that our Western colleagues planned what they called "globalisation") is losing its appeal and has long ceased to be a model to follow. Moreover, even many people in the West are skeptical about it – you can see many examples of this.

Clearly, multipolarity and the emergence of new centres of power call for a search for a balance of interests and compromises to maintain stability in the world. Here, of course, diplomacy should play a leading role, especially since we have a backlog of problems which require generally acceptable solutions, including regional conflicts, international terrorism, food security, and the environment. So, we operate on the premise that we can reach agreements only through diplomatic efforts. Only solutions that enjoy the support of everyone can be sustainable.

Unfortunately, our Western partners led by the United States are not willing to agree on common approaches to resolving problems. Washington and its allies are trying to impose their own approaches. Their behavior is clearly based on a desire to preserve their centuries-old domination in international affairs despite the objective trends toward a polycentric international order. This runs contrary to the fact that purely economically and financially, the United States and its closest allies can no longer single-handedly resolve all issues in the global economy and world affairs. Moreover, various methods of blackmail, coercive, economic, and informational pressure are used in order to artificially retain their dominance and to regain their undisputed positions. They are not above overt, blatant interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, such as Venezuela. Without hesitating, they publicly threaten Cuba and Nicaragua with the same scenarios. These are the most recent and odious examples.

It is deeply disturbing that the US has, for quite some time now, been pursuing a policy of scrapping the international legal framework for arms limitation and for progress towards disarmament and arms control. Following its withdrawal in the early 2000s from the ABM Treaty, which was one of the cornerstones of global stability, it has now embarked on the path of destroying the INF Treaty. Furthermore, Washington has sounded quite equivocal about the future of the New START Treaty, which expires in 2021.

Without doubt, in other areas not related to disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the international legal framework is also being destroyed. Washington's position on the Middle East settlement process is an example. The exit, in an arrogant manner, from the agreements on the Iranian nuclear programme, which was approved by the UN Security Council, is another example. It is clear that by economic indicators the US is still the leading power, but its relative role is declining. The economies of China, India and a number of other countries and regions are booming. As we have seen over the past few years, the US is no longer capable of competing in the economy in good faith. Methods of unfair competition today determine the actions of Washington in international economic relations. The principles of the WTO are being eroded. It is because of Washington's position that the existing dispute resolution body in the WTO cannot start working, and the US resorts to procedural tricks to keep it in such a "suspended", "frozen" state for as long as possible. Moreover, unilateral sanctions and the extraterritorial application of its own laws, which has acquired a global character, as well as trade wars, which is all we hear about now – all of this is directed not only against countries that pursue an independent policy, but also against the closest allies of the United States. The situation around Nord Stream 2 and the threats against Turkey, a NATO member, because Ankara decided to strengthen its defences by acquiring Russian weapons, are examples of this.

Statements by our Western partners at international institutions about the need to comply with and have respect for international law are becoming increasingly rare. Instead of the term international law, they have switched to another term – the rules-based order. Our Western partners insist on having a rules-based order. However, they do not specify what these rules are because every time the rules are invented to fit the situation. When we asked them about the reason for this change, they failed to provide an intelligible answer. But we see how this works in practice. Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Technical Secretariat was created to determine if any banned chemical agent was used or not. Amendments to the convention were voted through – an unlawful move as votes in favour of the amendments accounted for less than a half of the overall number of the signatories to the Convention – in such a way that the Technical Secretariat was authorised, as a matter of fact, to determine who is guilty of the use of a chemical agent, which is otherwise the exclusive right of the UN Security Council. It is an altogether illegal action because, as any legal expert or even a schoolchild knows, amendments to conventions are, by definition, subject to consensus. If you want to introduce an idea, please propose an amendment. The amendment will be debated and if it is approved during talks, a ratification process will be launched. This is the only way to change conventions. However, instead of taking an approach based on international law, the West resorted to the rules it invented to push its position through.

Incidentally, we see the same situation at the Council of Europe, although its charter says that its members have equal rights in all of its bodies. This document is based on international law. Instead of faithfully complying with it, the Russophobic minority pressed the Parliamentary Assembly into voting in favour of stripping the Russian Federation of voting rights at the Parliamentary Assembly. This is a rule that flies in the face of international law.

There are many other examples. There are attempts by the United States and its closest allies – the British and some others – to, in fact, privatise the secretariats of international organisations, plant their staff there, consolidate the secretarial staff from other countries on which the Westerners have leverage, and (as if on behalf of the secretariats) push through various important ideas that have not been discussed during state-to-state talks, bypassing intergovernmental bodies. Thus, a concept for countering violent extremism was pushed through the UN Secretariat under the previous Secretary-General. It says that extremism is generated in the countries where authoritarian regimes clamp down on democracy and human rights, so the international community should work with the civil society of these countries bypassing their respective governments. Clearly, this is another manifestation of a policy aimed at interfering with the domestic affairs of other countries. Similar attempts to "privatise" the secretariats of international organisations in order to promote their interests can also be observed in approaches to controlling biological safety, organising peacekeeping and many other situations.

Speaking of international law and illegitimate rules, there is international law in the form of the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic and consular relations which determine the immunity of diplomatic property. This did not prevent the United States, starting from the Obama administration, from seizing, in a raider-like manner, Russian diplomatic property located in its territory.

The double standards and the hypocrisy of Western diplomacy can be seen particularly well with regard to the situation in Ukraine. The support by Washington and Brussels of the armed unconstitutional coup followed by full support for the anti-Russia course, which the putschists adhered to from day one of the coup, are clearly a case of both. This is by far not a coincidence. The goal was absolutely clear: to pit two brotherly nations against each other and to broaden the geopolitical space around Russia controlled by Washington for subsequent development. The fact that in the five years since the coup, and four years since signing the Minsk agreements, all the manipulations of Poroshenko's regime, who tried and continues to try to sabotage these agreements, have not drawn any criticism from the Western countries, once again goes to show that their goal is not so much to resolve the conflict as to use it to contain Russia.

This policy of containment was being carried out long before the Ukraine developments and the reunification of Crimea with Russia. In connection with Crimea and Donbass, as well as other foreign policy situations, we see that demonisation of Russia serves as a pretext for the further expansion of NATO and a ploy to distract public attention from the many internal problems of the West itself. We have seen this approach for some time.

Overall, I want to say, and I hope that the audience here can see the validity of such an assessment, that the attempts to put together an anti-Russia coalition and isolate Russia have failed. Initially, our foreign policy course, when it was approved by President Putin in the 2000s, was based on a multi-pronged approach and on the assumption that we should maintain good relations with everyone, whether it's the north, south, west, or east.

Lately, Russia has managed to considerably elevate its standing in all regions of the world. Our country is regularly visited by a large number of delegations at the highest level and the level of foreign ministers and other top officials. Our independent and unbiased stance in defence of international law and solving problems collectively on the basis of the UN Charter and without double standards is received sympathetically by the overwhelming majority of countries. Not all of them can express it openly, but they demonstrate their attitude through concrete actions, including by engaging in dialogue with us on a continuous basis. This reflects not only the relevance of the approaches we promote but also the obvious exhaustion of the world's countries and peoples from geopolitical games and their consequences. In fact, they are rejecting the colonial logic of leader-follower that is being imposed on them primarily by the United States, which insistently demands that they follow it and has no qualms about resorting to intimidation and other behind-the-scenes methods.

We will work to strengthen the belt of neighbourliness along our borders. We will try to achieve this by working through bilateral channels with our neighbours and through international organisations created and operating in this space, such as the CSTO, EAEU, CIS, and SCO.

Of course, our unconditional priority is to realise Russian President Vladimir Putin's initiative to create the Greater Eurasian Partnership involving member states of the EAEU, SCO and ASEAN. We keep the door open to all other countries on the vast Eurasian continent. This also applies to the EU, if and when it is ready to join in a process based on equal rights and mutual benefit.

We will support cooperation in the international community in countering challenges and threats, including terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, drug trafficking, organised crime and many other evils. We will contribute to settling the world's many crises, including the conflict in Syria where Russia's involvement, based on the appeal of the legitimate government, made it possible to defeat the main units of ISIS, prevent the collapse of Syrian statehood and create conditions for a political settlement, something we are working on now.

We will take an active part in addressing global challenges at the UN, working for the strengthening of its coordinating role in world affairs in line with its charter. We will expand our dialogue in associations of the new type where all issues are resolved by consensus, which is a must in today's conditions where multi-polarity is in demand. I am referring to the G20, BRICS, the SCO and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. We will work for the prevalence of positive attitudes in the OSCE that also adheres to the principle of consensus. Its work should be aimed at drafting common decisions and its rostrum should not be used only for accusations and angry rhetoric.

I have already mentioned the Council of Europe. We are ready to help it overcome the crisis that was not triggered by us. But the first and decisive step should be made by those who stripped the Russian delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of all the necessary powers, in violation of the council's charter.

In the Council of Europe and in Europe as a part of the world, we are hearing more and more voices that want to stop the West's senseless confrontation with Moscow that is obviously fanned and promoted to suit Washington's geopolitical ambitions and the interests of US business that wants to replace Russian energy sources with more expensive American sources and Russian arms with its own. I think people in Europe understand full well that without Russia it is impossible to ensure European security in all of its dimensions – military-political, economic and humanitarian. I hope this understanding will break through the intense pressure that is exerted on the Europeans by the Americans and that Europe will still find the strength to display independence when it comes to vital issues. We will certainly not be found wanting when our partners who are not yet bold enough to deal with Russia, based on their own rather than alien interests, are ready for this.

We are always ready to search for a solution. Needless to say, our positions will never coincide completely, but we are always ready to seek a balance of interests and mutually acceptable solutions. The threats and ultimatums that are now used in relations with us will not produce the desired results. We will continue doing everything we can to ensure the interests of our country and our people in the foreign policy arena.

SA puts on hold ratifying ILO's Convention 122 (ЮАР приостанавливает ратификацию Конвенции МОТ 122) / South Africa, April, 2019
Keywords: concluded_agreements, social_issues
South Africa

Government and its social partners have agreed to put on hold the signing of the International Labour Organization's Employment Policy Convention No. 122 in favour of developing the country's National Labour Policy first.

This decision was taken on Tuesday after talks between representatives of the ILO and South Africa's National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Convention 122 calls upon ratifying member States to promote and engage in genuine tripartite consultations on employment policies.

One of the benefits for South Africa to ratify Convention 122 would be the State's commitment and accountability to promoting "full, productive and freely chosen employment" in a tripartite framework.

Upon ratification, South Africa would be called upon to report regularly on the effect given to its provisions, and be required to provide detailed statistical information, disaggregated by age and sex, on the labour market and on employment trends in the country.

Department of Labour Chief Director: International Relations, Sipho Ndebele, said following the ILO's Gap Analysis presentation, South Africa was of the view that social partners needed more time to convene further and revisit the document.

"It is critical that we meet again as social partners and receive further inputs to close any existing gaps before we sign," Ndebele said.

Nedlac is the vehicle through which government, labour, business and community organisations cooperate through problem-solving and negotiation on economic, labour and development issues facing the country.

The social partners were in unison during the workshop that they have a joint responsibility to deal with the country's stubbornly high unemployment rate (especially that of youth) hovering at 27%.

South Africa, in its efforts to meet the Southern African Development Community (SADC) commitments on International Labour Standards, is engaged in a ratification process of ILO Employment Policy Convention 122.

The Convention requires national employment policy to be positioned as a major goal within the national agenda

According to the ILO's Employment Instrument specialist, Anna Torriente, to date, Employment Policy Convention 122 has been signed by 113 countries; 24 of these in Africa and South Africa is the only BRICS country that has not signed the Convention.

Torriente said Convention 122 was flexible in that it allows the country to analyse its own situation, identify gaps and implement its own labour market policy measures to deal with employment. –
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
BRICS and the future of South-South cooperation networks (БРИКС и будущее сотрудничества внутри Юг-Юг) / United Kingdom, April, 2019
Keywords: cooperation, expert_opinion
United Kingdom
Author: Maxim Khomyakov

Notions of the 'Global South' and the 'Global North' seem to have substituted the preceding geopolitical concept of an East-West division and the theory of First, Second and Third Worlds. Nevertheless, these notions remain extremely problematic. Why, for example, is Australia part of the Global North, while Russia, the former leader of the Eastern or Second World, drifts towards the Global South despite its polar regions and Arctic ambitions?

Moreover, since the 'North' is neatly defined as European and North American societies (including Australia and New Zealand) and the 'South' is perceived as comprised of such different worlds as Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa, the question is then whether this paradigm is not just a slightly modified traditional Eurocentric vision of the world.

Yet it is a rather persistent concept: discussions on North-South or South-South relations are more and more widespread. Higher education is no exception. The rise of the Global South as an important study destination and a place for conducting valuable research makes it visible in transforming the academic landscape.

Most university partnerships, however, are still oriented along Global North-Global South lines, meaning that resources (students, finance, etc) are transferred towards the North, while standards and models travel in the opposite direction.

As a consequence, it is no surprise that universities in the so-called Global South are increasingly seeking horizontally organised South-South academic cooperation focused upon the common problems of Southern societies.

South-South cooperation

The majority of South-South cooperation projects are based on geographic regions, like the African Research Universities Alliance, which has founded centres of excellence in 10 priority areas that are crucial for African development.

Another example is an attempt to manage Sino-Russian cooperation in Central Asia through the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Network University.

Most of these regional consortia, however, have similarities with North-South cooperation models, since one or two regional leaders (as in the case of the SCO Network University) usually hold stronger positions and their primary aim seems to be getting greater access to regional academic markets.

For instance, through participation in numerous regional university associations, Russia seeks, on the one hand, to maintain connections with the former Soviet Union countries (for example, the CIS Network University) and, on the other hand, to handle relations with other regional academic powers such as the Association of Sino-Russian Technical Universities, the SCO Network University and the Russian-Indian Network of Higher Education Institutions.

New type of South-South cooperation

Russia's academic cooperation with the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is, however, very different due to the nature of the consortium.

Firstly, the BRICS is not 'regional' in the geographic sense of the word. Nevertheless, since the cooperation is focused on shared problems and the overlapping interests of the leading countries of the Global South, BRICS can be considered as an example of a different, more innovative approach to regionalism, where spatial distances matter less in defining regions while shared interests seem to play an increasingly important role.

Second, BRICS is a club of Global South leaders and has potential to expand to other Asian, African and Latin American countries. Currently, it is a grouping of the powerful and, therefore, excludes vertically structured hierarchical relations. In other words, it is impossible to bring the old North-South paradigm of unequal power relations to the BRICS cooperation.

Third, BRICS brings together countries with very different backgrounds and histories. Arguably, these countries are even more distant from each other in their academic landscapes than they are geographically, with only China and Russia sharing a relatively similar academic culture. This makes cooperation more challenging.

Towards horizontal university cooperation

Over the past few years university cooperation between the BRICS countries seems to have expanded rapidly.

Some five years ago Russian participation in the annual conferences of the Brazilian Association for International Education (FAUBAI) or the International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA) was simply unthinkable; today it is a routine that enables professors from these distant countries to meet regularly.

This rapid improvement in cooperation is partly explained by recently established mechanisms that include annual ministerial meetings in education and several horizontal university networks. Academic cooperation in the BRICS region remains fairly novel; cooperation along the South-North principles continues to be much more intensive than the South-South cooperation.

For instance, even the Russian universities that are expected to be actively involved in cooperation with their BRICS counterparts (that is, members of the BRICS Network University) have a very limited number of international students from these countries.

In 2017, for example, 12 Russian universities in the network hosted only 39 students from Brazil, 136 from India and 191 from South Africa. The presence of Chinese students was more conspicuous: 5,120. The number of co-authored publications among any pair of the BRICS countries is even more telling: it never exceeds 3% of the total number of the articles published by a particular country.

However, the recent establishment of two large university networks that aim to address common issues of the BRICS countries is a sign that academic cooperation is moving forward.

The BRICS Network University is an association of 56 universities jointly working on masters and PhD programmes in six main areas: economics, BRICS studies, water resources, ecology and climate changes, energy and computer sciences.

The BRICS University League is another initiative, as yet more loosely organised, which aims to improve cooperation among universities in the BRICS countries. It is still too early to assess these two initiatives, but their very existence seems to indicate a demand for new forms of partnerships that pursue goals not covered by traditional North-South academic cooperation.

A voice for the emerging Global South

The BRICS – at least in principle – is intended to be a grouping of the leaders of the so-called Global South. Arguably, it has more value not as a club of five emerging economies aspiring for a fairer place in the current world order, but rather as a group that provides a voice for the emerging Global South.

This is the idea behind the 'BRICS-plus' format developed over the last BRICS summits. In this context, Russia is considered a leader of a much larger Global South area that includes the post-Soviet countries of Central Asia.

In general, BRICS seems to be extremely important for Russia, making the country a member of a grouping of the most dynamically developing countries – even if the moniker 'Global South' hinders more than it helps.

Instead of being focused on its past, Russia is learning to look to the future as part of the BRICS. Higher education is no exception to this forward-looking vision.

With the BRICS Network University, BRICS University League and other similar educational forums, Russia can put itself right at the centre of a changing academic world, gaining access to the intellectual resources of the countries that together make up 40% of the world's population. An ambitious vision like this is certainly worth the effort.

Maxim Khomyakov is deputy director and acting director of the Centre for Research Management and Academic Development. He is also professor of the department of political science, Saint-Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Area Studies, Higher School of Economics Campus in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Email: This article was first published in the current edition of Higher Education in Russia and Beyond (HERB) and is reproduced with the kind permission of the author and editor of HERB.

Digital Media Can Bridge the Gap Between Youngsters of India, Russia - Minister (Цифровые СМИ могут преодолеть разрыв между молодежью Индии и России - министр) / Russia, April, 2019
Keywords: digital, media, social_issues, quotation

Despite the strategic partnership between India and Russia, the younger generations of both countries do not know each other well as was the case during the Soviet times. According to a Russian minister, youth from India and Russia can easily be connected through the use of new technology platforms as they understand and relate to it.

New Delhi (Sputnik): Alexey Volin, Russia's deputy minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, along with a Russian media delegation, visited India recently to build up collaboration between Indian and Russian media. In an interview with Sputnik, the minister explained the importance of media interaction between Russia and India.

Unlike during the Soviet times, there is a lack of direct contact between the younger generations of both countries and his visit aims to build ways to re-establish the bond between the youngsters of the two allies.

Sputnik: What is the purpose of your visit?

Alexey Volin: My main objective to come to India is to provide new impetus for our ties and enhance the cooperation in media spheres. At the present moment, we believe that our ties in the context of Russian-India media exchange are not commensurate with the level of the cooperation which should be between our two great countries who call themselves strategic partners.

Let me give you an example. Both India and China together with Russia are members of BRICS. But our cooperation with China in the media sphere accounts for more than one hundred or sometimes two hundred events per year. On the other hand, our engagements in India in the media sphere accounts for not more than 10 to 12 events every year. We certainly understand that these numbers are not good enough. We do see the interest for such cooperation not only from people's side but also from the business' side.

Sputnik: Can you clarify the 'business' aspect of Russia-India media cooperation?

Alexey Volin: We understand that most of the Russian and Indian media houses are business companies. They enrich themselves through ties and communication. That is why we discussed the idea of annual Russian- Indian Forum of Media Representatives which should be held in India and Russia on a turn by turn basis. Two years ago, the first forum was held in Delhi. We can't say that it was a revolution, but there was a good degree of success. We can see that there was a development of ties in the sphere of cinema and in the sphere of the relationship among the TV companies. We are absolutely sure that regular interaction among the main players in the media business will be of mutual benefits to both Russian and Indian markets.

Sputnik: What will be the structural form of Russian-India media cooperation?

Alexey Volin: We believe that there could be several segments to take this forward. The first is TV and radio development for the modern-era. The second could be news agencies and newspapers. The third could be new media because we see that more and more people are moving towards New Media from traditional media. The forms of communication in the New Media sphere are different from the traditional forms of communication. We should learn from each other — how to operate, how to work, what the young generation wants to see etc.

More than half of the population in Russia and India is using messengers and social networks. There is no sense in the traditional press releases. There is no sense in articles written in a bureaucratic language, so-called official reports, official releases, etc, because they don't work and nobody reads it. This is because at the present moment traditional media no longer has the monopoly as the only source of information. Now, the alternative way to reach the brain and hearts of people is to use new communication modalities.

Sputnik: What is the main idea of communication through new media?

Alexey Volin: The main idea in new media communication is that it should be short and interesting information, which could be and should be shared by the users of the social network or by the users of messengers. The sharing is the key aspect. If the content is dull there is no sharing. So we need to use new language styles and we need to teach people to use these new language styles.

Sputnik: Can you give some examples of new media in Russia?

Alexey Volin: In Russia, we have very good schools that work on New Media. There is the school of Russia Today (RT) and also of Sputnik for example. On YouTube, RT has more than 6 billion views. This means that RT's content is interesting. It means that the content is being shared. It also means that proper language is being used for speaking with the people. We are ready to discuss with our Indian partners and Indian colleagues on how to use the experience, and on how to train each other. We have an idea and that is to teach Indian journalists when they come to Moscow where they can do special courses in RT and in Sputnik.

Sputnik: Can you talk about new technological platforms?

Alexey Volin: New technological platforms is another section for the Russian-Indian Forum of Media Representatives. We understand that in the digital sphere for spreading information internationally especially through mobile platforms, we would need new equipment and new gadgets. It is not enough only to produce content. You need to spread it and you need to find the right technical way to do it.

If you remember I was speaking about the target audience. We used to say that our target audience is the person at the present moment. Although our final target is a person, there is a target device that takes information to him. Say for example a person has three different devices at his disposal — a tablet, a laptop and a smartphone. These are three targets and each of them needs its own form of content creation and has its own platform.

Sputnik: How do you suggest bridging the gap between Indian and Russian journalists?

Alexey Volin: This would be another section in the Russian-Indian Forum of Media Representatives. Young journalists need to be tapped. Old journalists know everything and they remember the Russian-Indian relationship, the Soviet-Indian ties, the Soviet-Indian development, etc., but the younger generation knows nothing along these lines. Unfortunately, the level of their knowledge, their general knowledge, in particular, is very narrow and low. The only way here is person-to-person contact because they don't believe in the books. They don't believe in words they believe in communication — in personal human communication. So they need to see each other, they need to see the countries in context; they need to see how our daily life is organised. The Russian young journalists should visit India, and the Indian journalists should go to Russia to see with their own eyes and experience the moods and attitudes for themselves.

BRICS Appoints Khushhal Kaushik as Cyber Security Advisor (БРИКС назначил Кушала Каушика советником по кибербезопасности) / India, April, 2019
Keywords: digital, business_council

BRICS Chamber of Commerce - the entrepreneurship and business promotion arm for BRICS nations - has taken a crucial step towards improving cybersecurity in BRICS countries. The CCI has brought Khushhal Kaushik - a global cybersecurity expert onboard to conduct cybersecurity training workshops and consulting assignments around the globe.

Khushhal is the CEO & founder of Lisianthus Tech Pvt. Ltd. – a rapidly growing tech company devoted to improving cybersecurity standards in organizations around the globe. In the past, Khushhal has helped organizations and governments from around the world in dealing with critical cybersecurity risks.

"It is a great honor to be associated with BRICS as a cybersecurity advisor and I would be looking forward to kickstarting some interesting cybersecurity programs & taking up challenging projects as BRICS CCI Cybersecurity Advisor in the future," says, Khushhal on the occasion.

Khushhal will be responsible for conducting awareness programs, training workshops and take up cybersecurity consulting assignments on the behalf of CCI. As an advisor, he will be solely responsible for guiding companies, professionals and enthusiasts in building digitally-secure IT infrastructure and adopting best cybersecurity practices.

"We were looking for a dynamic professional who could bring much-needed expertise in the field of cybersecurity to BRICS CCI. As an exclusive chamber, we promote trade & entrepreneurship across BRICS nation and needed someone who could help us improve our cybersecurity capabilities. With Khushhal as our Cybersecurity Advisor, we believe, our core motto of facilitating industry growth beyond borders will gain much needed impetus," - Dr. B.B.L Madhukar Director General, BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Appointing a globally-renowned cybersecurity expert as an advisor will improve the state of affairs concerning cybersecurity around the globe as well as in the BRICS region which consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa

Khushhal Kaushik is coveted cybersecurity professional with enviable credentials in the global cybersecurity domain. His authority in cybersecurity domain can be justified by the fact that he is the first Indian Cyber security Expert to be featured by UNESCO's Annual Magazine. His knowledge, expertise and experience have been instrumental in development of much-needed cybersecurity policies across global conglomerates and governments. He founded Lisianthus Tech with an aim to help companies in identifying and addressing security loopholes in their IT infrastructure.
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