The BRICS summit in Goa, India has cracked up to be a success, despite numerous predictions about the organization’s “irrelevance” by liberal media around the globe. The members of the organization (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) signed the so called Goa Declaration, which in general terms reflects Russia’s and China’s opposition to the policy of “regime change,” even though not naming the US and the EU as the main motors of this policy.
The leaders of the five biggest non-Western economies vowed to continue their support for New Development Bank and Contingent Reserve Arrangement – the two bodies set up by BRICS in order to resist the pressure of the IMF and other US-controlled global institutions.
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin met with India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, and the two leaders found common ground on all the issues discussed (including Syria). So much for the numerous reports of the Western press about Modi’s “reorientation,” presumably favoring an alliance with the United States against China. (http://thebricspost.com/putin-modi-meet-in-goa-announce-defence-energy-deals/#.WAR2GCOhqko).
The two leaders of Russia and India signed deals on the deliveries of Russian S400 air defense systems to India, with the contract worth $5 billion. The two countries are also going to set up a joint venture in order to build Russian-designed Kamov helicopters in India.
But just 4-5 days ago the mood about this summit was not so optimistic – at least, in the Russian opposition press. The Goa summit attracted a lot of attention in the liberal Russian press, making it a contrast to the last year’s BRICS summit in Russia’s Ufa. In 2015, when “isolation” of Russia was still name of the game in the mainstream media of the US and the EU, where the Russian liberals take most of their ideas about their own country. This year, however, the attention of the Russian liberal press to the BRICS summit was there – but it was of a negative character. The pro-Western Russian media outlets have pronounced BRICS to be in a “critical condition.” The main reasons cited were the change of the head of state in Brazil and India’s attempts to improve relations with the United States, supposedly inviting the wrath of China.
“Despite the task of creating a “new world order”, BRICS is losing its role of a counterweight to Western institutions, becoming a union of states, whose interests move further apart,” wrote the Moscow-based Kommersant daily, a traditional liberal critic of any Russian government since 1991.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta, which under the guidance of its publisher Konstantin Remchukov, a big friend of the US ambassador in Russia, blasts the Kremlin in its editorials, while from time to time allowing a sober voice to speak out on its foreign policy page, – this newspaper concentrated its attention on India’s “unhappiness” about Moscow’s expanding contacts with China and Pakistan. “Moscow and New Delhi still officially name each other privileged partners,” the newspaper reported. “But these relations are going through a difficult test now. Both friendly powers are subjected to strong pressure from outside… Can their relations take a dip down?”
But then, if Russo-Indian relations were going through such a difficult test, why would Russia suggest selling to India its most sophisticated anti-aircraft system – S400 missiles (also called “Triumph” in Russia)? The latest versions of weapons are in fact never sold to unreliable friends, not to speak of adversaries. Meanwhile, Putin’s chief foreign policy adviser, Yuri Ushakov, on the eve of the summit assured the journalists that the deal had been sealed just recently – in the midst of India’s supposed “alienation” from Russia.
“The agreement on deliveries to India of the of the anti-aircraft missiles S400 (“Triumph”) will be signed as a finalization for the talks our president and prime minister Modi are going to have,” Ushakov said on the eve of the summit. “The deal’s signing by Putin and Modi as a conclusion for the talks reflects the similarity of the Russian and the Indian approaches to the problems on the regional and the global agendas,” Ushakov told the journalists in Moscow.
All in all, the Russian side and the Indian side signed 18 documents on various spheres of cooperation in Goa.
In an interview to Russia’s RIA news agency and the Indian news agency IANS, president Putin mentioned 20 priority projects, which will be jointly developed by the Russian and Indian companies. Some of these projects are of high-tech nature, co contradicting the stereotypes about the “oil and gas” nature of Russian exports. For example, the Moscow-based “AFK Systema” group is working on a model of a “smart city” for India. And the Russian company “Dauria Airspace” plans to help Indians place their telecommunications equipment on the Earth’s orbit.
Speaking to journalists before the summit, Putin sounded confident that his vision of the current developments in international relations will be supported by all of the BRICS’ heads of state, including the newcomer to BRICS’ summits, the new Brazilian acting president Michel Temer.
“BRICS countries do not accept outside pressure on independent states and the attempts to limit their sovereignty. This will be reflected in the declaration of our summit in Goa,” Putin said confidently to RIA. “BRICS is one of the key elements of the world order which is in the process of forming itself… We have similar approaches on the Syrian crisis and on the settlement in the Middle East in general.”
Putin also condemned the attempts of “certain Western states” to push through “one-sided solutions.”
The participants of the summit in Goa adopted the declaration and the Plan of Action, setting the priorities of their cooperation in the next few years.
As for Russo-Chinese ties, the good news is that after a slump of 27.8 percent which the trade between the two countries endured in 2015, bilateral turnover restarted its growth in 2016, gaining 7.1 percent against the level of the first three quarters of the year 2015.
According to the information from the General Administration of Customs (GAC), the turnover between Russia and China now is $50.27 in the first three quarters of this year.
During their recent meetings, the foreign ministers of Russia and China, Sergei Lavrov and Wang Yi agreed that they saw eye to eye on the dangers of the American deployment of THAAD anti-ballistic-missile systems in South Korea. Formally directed against North Korea, these ABM complexes were obviously aimed at obliterating the importance of both the Chinese and Russian nuclear arsenals.
As for the more distant partners, such as Brazil and South Africa, the idea of a free trade zone between the BRICS’ member countries had been floated before the summit. As usual in this kind of situations, the Chinese side has fewer fears of “going global,” than the other countries, which have less competitive industries.
“By setting up a free trade area, the BRICS countries will be able to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers, giving free play to their comparative advantages,” said Shen Danyang, the spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce.
In the situation, when the United States did not take Russia and China into its own Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP agreement), it is only natural that the BRICS’ countries, as the biggest emergent economies, strive to develop ties between each other, including the creation of a free trade zone of their own. It is only to their peril that Kommersant and Nezavisimaya refuse to note these trends.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.