About 20 countries now interested in joining BRICS despite Ukraine crisis

I’ve been saying it for a long time now that the power structure has shifted from the west to the east, and here’s more proof. Johnny

Lavrov stresses that attempts to maintain a pro-western order “are totally futile”.

Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher

Although the Western world alludes that Russia is internationally isolated after launching a special military operation in Ukraine over a year ago, the number of countries expressing an interest in joining BRICS continues to increase. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, there are around 20 countries wanting to join BRICS. Among them are Algeria, Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and number of African countries.

“It’s worth mentioning that over the past couple of years, including during the first year of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, the number of countries that want to join the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has increased dramatically. As of now, there are about twenty of them,” Lavrov said during a meeting with the regional heads of office of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The Russian Foreign Minister also said that Moscow has managed to thwart the West’s plans to isolate Russia by increasing cooperation with most other countries in the world.

“Attempts by the West to impose its will on everyone else, to impose its so-called rules on which it wants to establish and maintain a pro-western order are totally futile and absolutely hopeless. The head of Russian diplomacy said that the updated version of Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept should be approved by the country’s president soon,” he added.

It is recalled that Lavrov visited South Africa on January 23and engaged in a “most wonderful meeting”, as his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor described it. As Pandor said, the meeting helped “strengthen the already good relations” between the two countries. Although it may beunsurprising that Lavrov received such a warm welcome, itcannot be overlooked that Pandor’s comments were said in the context of Washington’s attempts to contain Russian influence in Africa, particularly on policy regarding the war in Ukraine.

South Africa is one of the most influential countries on the continent and quickly dismissed US pressure regarding its relations with Russia. Pandor even criticised Washington’s use of “bullying tactics.” She cited the Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act, which was considered by the US Congress last year, as one example of “bullying tactics”. The bill did not eventuate, partly due to the objections of theSouth African-led 16-member Southern African Development Community, but its mere threat of existence was enough to deepen already existing suspicions against the US on the continent.  

This example demonstrates why 20 major regional countries around the world have expressed their interest in becoming members of BRICS and the SCO. Ordinarily, one would assume that Russia and South Africa have little in common, but their shared memberships in BRICS puts them in a partnership where they have mutual interests in defending their own sovereignty from Western pressure. 

BRICS will decide this year on whether to admit new member states into the bloc, which will surely see a name change since the current one is abbreviated from the current member states – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It is likely that a mechanism for new members will be made, especially as there is great interest for an alternative political-economic force to American unipolarity, whose own influence is declining on the world stage.

BRICS members are characterised as industrialised developing countries with large and emerging economies, in addition to accounting for over half of the world’s population. The five-member bloc has a combined gross domestic product equivalent to $13.6 trillion and their total foreign exchange reserves are $4 trillion.

Given the West’s overuse of sanctions as an economic weapon, BRICS is establishing its own financial institutions to challenge the likes of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. This is of significant interest to sanctioned countries, hence why Iran and Turkey have submitted their membership applications. 

It is obvious that the wealth and power of BRICS members is increasing, and by admitting new members, the prestige and influence of the bloc will only grow and serve as an economic force for countries seeking independence from Western hegemony. To move this process forward, the New Development Bank was established by BRICS as a counterweight to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It already has several countries outside of BRICS involved, such as Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates, with other countries, such as Egypt and Uruguay, expected to join soon. 

Also, it is noteworthy that countries with regional rivalries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, and Turkey and Egypt, have all expressed interest in joining BRICS without finding a contradiction. It suggests that these countries perhaps find BRICS to be a medium to settle their differences and pursue common interests instead. It is through this idea that BRICS will continue to receive expressions of interest, well beyond the 20 already mentioned by Lavrov, and offer the world an alternative to Western hegemony.

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