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Russia Plans BRICS-Plus Expansion, Discussion of Non-Dollar Trade

July 22, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—London and Washington may think that they scored a victory by creating security threats that have prevented Russian President Vladimir Putin from participating in person in the Aug. 22-24 BRICS summit in South Africa, but Russia’s policy related to the BRICS has not been diminished nor derailed. Russian spokesmen stated over the last 48 hours that the issue of non-dollar trade settlement mechanisms will be on the agenda for the upcoming summit, and that they expect the 2024 BRICS summit—hosted by Russia in Kazan—to see the number of participants grow beyond the current five members.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters today:

“Next year the Russian Federation will chair BRICS, the summit will be held in Kazan. Let’s see what the coming months will bring in terms of defining the parameters of BRICS expansion and how many heads of state will come to Kazan, it’s an open question. I think it will be more than the current five,”

he said.

Ryabkov also emphasized that Putin’s participation in the Johannesburg summit in video format “does not signal a decrease in attention” to BRICS. “On the contrary, it is a reflection that our leadership is fully focused on the format.”

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded similarly in her July 20 press briefing:

“This decision [for Putin to participate by videoconference] has been adopted. This formula has been in use many times... I’m convinced there’s no need to read too much into it, to look for some intrigues and so on... I think we can expect others to understand and respect our decisions as well.”

As for the agenda of the 2023 Johannesburg summit, on July 21 a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman told RT that “establishing sustainable payments mechanisms for mutual trade is among the key issues for the BRICS group of nations to discuss at their summit next month,” RT reported. “Given the current international situation, this issue will be addressed during the upcoming meeting of the bloc’s leaders,” the ministry said. RT added:

“According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the use of national currencies in mutual trade is complicated by factors such as their limited convertibility and higher volatility compared to the U.S. dollar. The ministry also acknowledged that the potential creation of a new BRICS single currency would be a ‘delicate’ process....

“Numerous developing nations—including Russia’s fellow BRICS members China, India, Brazil and South Africa—have started to move toward alternative currencies in trade. Russia floated the idea of introducing a BRICS currency last year. President Vladimir Putin said last June that member states were working on developing a new reserve currency based on a basket of the national currencies used by the five-nation bloc,”

RT reported.

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