Author: Charles Pennaforte & Edgar Gandra – 01/06/2021
The Role of BRICS and Russia for a Multipolar World
By Charles Pennaforte* & Edgar Gandra*
(*) Federal University of Pelotas (UFPEL), Brazil
Geopolitics and international relations have undergone several transformations throughout the 20th century. One of the most important of these is the two major world wars and the post-war cold re-organization of the world.
The re-order of the world-system in the post-war period involved the “Pax Americana “and the creation of a world order linked to the United States, parallel to the rise of the USSR to the status of military and ideological power, disputing with the US the condition of hegemonic power, in a bipolarity that has vanished with the disintegration of the socialist ideological bloc. While the United States consolidated as hegemon, they had to deal with the end of their systemic cycle of accumulation and their consequent decline trajectory.
The first two decades of the 21st century marked the resurgence of other powers, with the reappearance of Russia and China: Russia recovering part of its sphere of influence in its surroundings, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin; and China consolidating itself as a global economic power, both of which play an important role on the geopolitical board.´
These countries took advantage of the gaps generated by another structural crisis of world capitalism, materialized in the financial crisis of 2008, the consequences of which have influenced the relative decline of the United States ability to impose its majority will on the world system, as it has since the end of the 2nd World War.
Based on the decline of US influence in recent decades, the emergence of important actors at the beginning of the 21st century and the questioning of their unilateral postures, the emergence of the BRICS represented a common multipolar and multilateral world perspective for tackling global problems.
Despite the disbelief of the central core of capitalism (EUA – Europe), the BRICS gained geopolitical projection of great importance at the beginning of the 21st century. The states that participates up this power bloc own 26% of the territory, 42% of the population and 14% of the world’s GDP, as well as contributing more than 50% of the world’s GDP increase between 2005 and 2010.
For many Western analysts, the BRICS had no possibility of organizing a common agenda that would involve a large-scale articulation on the international stage. Such a prediction has not come true.
China and Russia, the two currently most powerful BRICS countries, face competition from the United States for areas of influence. The aggressive rhetoric of Washington and the economic measures against Beijing demonstrated the great concern of the Donald Trump administration with the development of the country’s economic and geopolitical in recent years. Despite the decline in its economic growth, Beijing has been increasing its economic influence in various parts of the world, either through the New Silk Road project or through its operations on the African continent, for example. In addition to its companies competing on an equal footing with Western companies (Huawei, for example), China has been taking advantage of the geopolitical and economic gaps created by the US in recent years to increase its influence.
On the other hand, Moscow has been suffering the impacts of a series of economic measures that seek to weaken its national project carried out by Vladimir Putin. This is with more emphasis since 2014, when Russia returned Crimea to its borders, faced with the possibility of a pro-Western government (NATO) in Ukraine and at the gates of its territory with clear objectives of creating “fragile spots” along its borders. Washington, for example, sees Moscow in recent years as a growing “threat” to American strategic interests. It is worth remembering that Russia has never adopted an offensive stance against any country, except when its geopolitical security may be affected as in the case of the totally unnecessary NATO approach.
Russia shows no “expansionist” or “imperialist” perspective. On the contrary, it defends in international forums the basic principles of diplomacy and respect for the positions taken in them. No unilateral action at all.
Western media reports a reversal of intent by placing Russia as a belligerent country or with expansionist aspirations. The historical facts show just the opposite. The Obama, Trump and now Joe Biden administrations seek to prevent in every way the consolidation of the Russian role of global protagonists in the construction of an environment without hegemony in the international system.
As China and Russia are the main actors of the BRICS, the weakening of both in the geopolitical and strategic aspect (the actions of Washington and partners go in this direction) would represent the very decline of the bloc and its objectives of building a new global governance in a multipolar and multilateral world.