BRICS Summit and what it means

By Mordechai Ben-Menachem

Last week’s top story!  This brief article attempts to provide an overview.  I ask readers to consider this a ‘baseline’ – verify the data and reach your own conclusions.

This is the first in-person forum meeting since the pandemic.  Clearly, no other BRICS summit has ever generated such international interest.  The declared objective is ‘a shift in global politics.’

BRIC formed in 2009, South Africa added in 2010 (BRICS).  The five original Member States: ~25% of global GDP, 42% of global population (3.2B people, ~$26T).  Prospective members include: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and ~20 more (23 have submitted formal applications).  At least 40 Heads of State are scheduled to attend.  The big questions going in were: Will an expansion occur?  Will a new currency system be declared?

China desires to leverage BRICS to promote its agenda.  If it does, will that create China-dominance; an anti-west group? India wants no part of that.  Brazil does not desire Sino-dominance either.  Both are pushing for less reliance on US payment systems, as are all of them.

If it expands, what formal structure will it adopt?  Expansion is now accomplished, but many questions remain unanswered.  China wants African support and minerals.  Africa wants “no-strings-loans” and weapons sales.  Will Africa ‘trade’ US-West domination for Sino-domination?  That appears highly unlikely, and China knows that.

The world is in a process to de-risk supply chains.

Every member came to the summit with an agenda.  Russia and China perceive a deep need to thwart US hegemony in global institutions.  China wants BRICS to rival G7 and G20.  China strongly supports significant expansion.  South Africa wants the BRICS to publicly support the Africa Free Trade Area (EST 2018).  India ‘desires’ expansion, but guardedly.  South Africa views itself as the voice of Africa.

Xi ‘skipped’ the BRICS Business Forum; no explanation provided.  His Minister of Commerce presented his speech.


Europe today has a $500B trade deficit.  BRICS have a trade surplus.  Goldman Sachs predicts that by 2050 BRICS will dominate the global economy.

Remember an important fact: bonds are a sale of debt, a wager.  In 2002, the US Federal Reserve began purchasing US Government debt; that meant the world was no longer willing to bet on the USD!  The USD is (present tense) strong, with the deepest and most transparent financial market.  However, pressures are building very, very fast and at some point, the position of the USD being the ‘only’ global reserve currency will end – slowly, slowly then suddenly (to paraphrase Hemingway).

Both China and India have built alternatives to SWIFT, the US-centric system used repeatedly by the US to bully other countries.  Both systems are thriving and growing rapidly.  South African President Ramaphosa said: “The changes that have taken place in BRICS economies over the past decade have done much to transform the shape of the global economy.” Brazilian President Lula said: “Accepting the new global colonialism is out of the question.”

Accepting the new global colonialism is out of the question

More and more countries are settling debts and payment in local currencies – partly because the process is much less expensive and partly because new computing power allows this to happen seamlessly.  It appears that the trend will be to broaden options: settle debts in locals, settle in crypto, settle in metals as opposed to the only option on SWIFT, settle in US dollars.

“What will it take for Africa to gain its place in international fora?”
Answer: for Africa to regain its confidence.


BRICS has been expanded by six new members: “With changing time it is time for the group to change”.  The six are: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Argentina, Ethiopia and Egypt note that three of the six are from the Middle East (or four if Iran is called ME) taking effect from January 2024.

India was wary of over-rapid expansion and in the end, succeeded; everything is consensus-based.  UAE and Egypt were sponsored by India as “strategic partners”.  Ethiopia is a key member of the African Union and also has strong economic ties with China.  Saudi Arabia desires access to emerging markets.  That is an interesting thought, as their only real exports are in hydrocarbons.  Iran is viewed as the interface to Central Asia.

The expansion is described as first phase, other phases are promised.  No ‘formal’ admission criteria publicly defined.  The call is “A multipolar World Order.”

Other items

The issue of a possible new currency was not (officially) discussed.

Forum voting structure was not discussed.  Five members can reach consensus (relatively) easily, can 11?

The ‘next’ apparent goal is to form a common agenda / common identity.  Ironically, the only real common thread seems to be “Don’t Tread on Me!”  For those learned in US history, that is an interesting thought.

Egypt and Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and Iran are geopolitical rivals.  What does this mean?

Is the organisation now “more credible?”


Apparently, the first direct result of the summit is that Saudi Arabia has agreed to consider purchasing nuclear technology from China.  What exactly this means for the United States and for Israel is too early to predict

The challenge to G7/G20 is clear.

August 29, 2023 | 13 Comments »

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13 Comments / 13 Comments

  1. @Laura
    Regarding the agency of the Ukrainians, I think it is also important, and actually quite pivotal, to recognize that the agency of the Ukrainians has been betrayed multiple times over the years, first in 2014 with the American coup, second following the 2014 election of a peace candidate who took Ukraine to war and defeat, third with the 2019 election of a peace candidate who folded on peace and pressed on to war (and defeat shortly as we will see, one way or the other), and lastly with the termination of political parties, shuttering of a religious order, and the cancelling of the constitutionally mandated presidential election.

    Ukrainians have no agency, as I noted before, and this will not change without many changes in Ukraine, which should can only be pursued honestly by the Ukrainians themselves. Notably, the Nazi’s should never have gained the support of the Nationalists, but like the partnership between the German old guard and Hitler, the Nationalists saw the power which could be gained by such a partnership, even as they ignored the plight and slaughter of a minority which they saw as odious in any event.

    Also you suggest that I should talk to Ukrainians to form a better opinion of them and their view, but I would suggest that we, you included, should try sympathizing with the Nationalists less and consider the plight which was illegally placed on the Ukrainian minorities during the coup as well as the war which was pursued shortly thereafter. This was always a Ukrainian problem, but Ukraine failed to solve it, and the involvement of the international cabal of NATO has only secured a future of depopulation and war as fruit of this Ukrainian failure.

    Hence, I would argue that it is well past time for the Ukrainians to take back control over their own future, elect a leader to represent their views (a peace candidate which perhaps might actually pursue peace), and for the West to let Ukraine become sovereign in their own realm at long last. Only by doing so will Ukrainians regain the agency which you claim they have always had, and which I challenge has always been betrayed.

  2. @Laura
    Thank you for your response.

    The Ukranian people themselves got rid of the leader who turned out to be a Kremlin puppet in 2014.

    I guess you believe the $5Bn dollars which the US bragged about spending in Ukraine leading upto their coup in corrupt Ukraine was some sort of a sound investment. Well we’ll save that discussion for another day.

    Interestingly, the US Asst Sec of State was recorded discussing with the US Ukrainian Ambassador as she actually chose who would be inside and who would be outside the new govt, and that this recording was released weeks before the actual coup and was recorded sometime before that. Note, this wasn’t a discussion where Nuland was telling Pryatt who was going to be in or out, but a discussion where she actually was making those choices at the time of the call being recorded. Also when asked about the recording, Nuland did not suggest in anyway that it was fraudulent, nor that it was manufactured nor that it was altered. This has never been alleged by the US at any time.

    As to the question of whether the Ukrainians had agency, it should be noted that the agency they had was used in electing a govt which a bunch of Nazis and thugs coordinated by the US State Dept (see above) overthrew. In fact, the use of political violence is not a diplomatically nor electorally acceptable form of expression. Political violence is actually the very antithesis of what forms and validates democratic govts, it diminishes dissent while hijacking the agency of the people to dissent. The post Maidan riots made clear that the newly US installed regime would not tolerate dissent, which resulted in the Odessa Massacre, and immediately afterwards the occupation of that city by the radical Maidan hooligans.

    In fact, the agency of the Ukrainian people was demonstrated by the army which refused to do the bidding of the newly installed US govt, ie assault the protesting people of the Dombas, which is why the Battalions such as Azov and Tornado were raised to use in place of the army, which had experienced significant defections.

    Agency is only available to free people, and foreign organized coups in particular tend to eliminate such things as the agency of the people, who are not free to exercise that agency.

  3. The Ukranian people themselves got rid of the leader who turned out to be a Kremlin puppet in 2014. Why don’t you talk to Ukrainians.

    The US didn’t threaten Russia seriously or otherwise.

    much as they overthrew the Ukrainian leadership a decade ago.

  4. NATO is colonizing Ukraine? You know this is ridiculous. We are trying to prevent Ukraine from being recolonized by Russia. The Ukrainians are a freedom-loving people who do not want to be under Russian rule. That is why they fight. Why is this so hard for you to grasp that Ukrainians want freedom and independence from Russia? You infantilize Ukrainians as if they are being manipulated by Washington into fighting for their own freedom. Why do you oppose Ukrainian independence? I guess you think the other former Soviet bloc nations who are currently members of NATO by choice, have actually been “colonized”. I don’t think they see it that way. They chose NATO membership.

    Furthermore, if Russia is an imperialist acting against the NATO colonizing of Ukraine, should we see the US as an imperialist for reacting to the Soviet colonizing of Cuba in 1962?

  5. @Laura

    you excuse Russia’s alliance with Iran.

    To begin with, it is not an alliance, it is a partnership, the distinction being as relevant as that between good and just. Secondly, I excused nothing, while recognizing the basis of that partnership as well as its weakness. The actions of the Neocon Globalists in Washington have in fact been reinforcing the basis of that partnership while doing nothing to manipulate the weaknesses of that partnership. Unfortunately, the Neocons in the US State Dept are so obsessed with their warped view of the world that they never look at things as they are rather than as they would like them to be, which is why they fail over and over again. Notably, the relationship between Russia and Iran is as unnatural a connection as that between Russia and China. So we can hate the Russians for seeking out partners from those who oppose their enemies in the US, or we can suggest ways to weaken the partnerships between Russia and both Iran and China. Perhaps you would prefer the former, as the Collective Neocon establishment do, but I would prefer the latter.


    ridiculously spin Russia’s imperialistic war against Ukrainian sovereignty

    Again with the claims that Russia has imperialist goals? >You seem to be reluctant to explain how Russia is an imperialist. Notably, Russia alone pursued good faith diplomatic attempts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis before the war, and alone has pursued diplomacy in good faith after the war began. Is this your view of an imperialist? Furthermore, if Russia is an imperialist acting against the NATO colonizing of Ukraine, should we see the US as an imperialist for reacting to the Soviet colonizing of Cuba in 1962?

    Russia…sovereignty which has never been threatened.

    The US called for the legitimate leader of Russia to be overthrown, much as they overthrew the Ukrainian leadership a decade ago. Also, the US/NATO armed, trained and funded an army specifically to fight Russia, all while conducting bad faith negotiations so that they could do exactly this, and it was confirmed by the leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine this was the purpose of them conducting such bad faith negotiations with Russia. Yet, Russia’s sovereignty has never been threatened? Regardless of anything else, and there is a great deal more to this short list, the US has seriously threatened Russia, and what is more, Russia is reacting to those threats as if they are of an existential nature, because they are in fact existential in nature.

  6. @Laura “You guys got cheated. These are pretty crummy cigars.

    “Do not worry. We send them pretty crummy rockets.”

    “One Two Three (1961) adapted by I.A.L. Diamond and Billy Wilder from the pre-war olay by the great, great Hungarian playwright and satirist, Ferenc Molnar.


  7. Funny how you ridiculously spin Russia’s imperialistic war against Ukrainian sovereignty into Russia fighting for its own sovereignty which has never been threatened. On top of that you excuse Russia’s alliance with Iran.

    Currently, Russia has a need of Iran’s arms in its fight to maintain its own national sovereignty and have responded to securing that need.

  8. @Laura

    the notion often pushed on this site that Russia is in any way a force for good.

    The words “force for good” likely has many connotations which do not fit the Russian state, or any other state for that matter, as states are not enforcers of good. While states have interests, the word ‘good’ implies a moralistic judgement which I would suggest is not useful in characterizing most states, and I think that national interests should instead be discussed as being ‘just’ and ‘unjust’ rather than as being ‘good’ and ‘evil’, with a few exceptions to which I would not personally include Russia (see below), for what it is worth.

    Notably, the Neocon tyrants who project an enforcement of their liberal vision of the world on uninterested nations are little more than the modern day equivalent of the Medieval crusaders, whose theology of liberalism is no less hostile and oppressive than the Stalinists who required world domination to consider themselves to be safe. The globalist goals of the both Liberal World Order and the Stalinists, represent the oppression of those sovereign nations of the world who are not inclined to adopt the political demands of foreigners. So, regardless of how great a dictator you find Russia’s most historically liberal leader to be, by opposing such foreign domination as has been set against his people, while he is not acting as a source of “good”, he is acting as a source of sovereign identity, rejecting the oppressing LWO which has weaponized a neighboring nation against him, and not for the first time. Of course, if I were Russian, I might consider that his actions are actually ‘good’, but since I am actually an uninterested party, I would only suggest that his actions in opposing such oppression, as was mounted by the Soviets against the US back in 1962 Cuba, are just. Note that just and good carry distinctions which should be seen as being quite markedly different, and I would suggest more appropriate to characterizing the actions of nation states.

    Also, what should gain our greater attention is not that Russia is partnered with Iran, but that Russia is a rival of Iran. They are each vying for the position of the greater influencer in the region, including over each-other. Currently, Russia has a need of Iran’s arms in its fight to maintain its own national sovereignty and have responded to securing that need. By reflecting upon this fact, I would suggest that the key to weakening that bond would be to change the focus to manipulate the strains between Russia and Iran, rather than focusing upon the economic ties which the West pressed Russia into creating. Indeed, by ending the Ukrainian war, which will only save Ukrainian lives and what remains of Ukrainian statehood, and/or focusing an attack upon the Iranian weapons manufacturing, the ties that have been made stronger by the Western actions over the past years might be somewhat undone. There is little hope that the Ukraine scam might be ended under the current regime in Washington, but if Trump returns to office, there are many aspects of these policies which might be undone. This being stated, Russia, like Israel, has been exposed to the dangerous aspects of trusting the US to act justly or responsibly, or of being a ‘force of good’ if you prefer to describe it, and certain aspects of these relationships will likely never be as strong as if these past four years had never occurred.

    Just some related thoughts.

  9. I hope this puts to rest the notion often pushed on this site that Russia is in any way a force for good.

    Vinod Dsouza
    April 16, 2024
    “BRICS members China and Iran are sticking through thick and thin after the Islamic Republic launched missile attacks on Israel. China came out in full support of Iran and is strengthening its diplomatic relations with the Islamic nation. Not just China, BRICS member Russia is also hailing Iran and supporting the regime after the drone attacks on Saturday.

  10. BRICS: China & Iran Make Major Announcement

    Vinod Dsouza
    April 16, 2024
    “BRICS members China and Iran are sticking through thick and thin after the Islamic Republic launched missile attacks on Israel. China came out in full support of Iran and is strengthening its diplomatic relations with the Islamic nation. Not just China, BRICS member Russia is also hailing Iran and supporting the regime after the drone attacks on Saturday.

    Also Read: BRICS Supports Cryptocurrency for Global Trade, Not US Dollar”

  11. @Michael

    Israel is in the US camp, whether it likes it or no, because America’s enemies also oppose Israel.

    If you look at the situation fairly, America’s allies oppose Israel as well, but so too does America herself. Should Israel throw its lot in with the US, it would be isolating itself with the very forces which are currently funding and securing Iran’s return to prominence, even as its nuclear program expands into an ever greater existential threat for the Jewish State. Like it or not, Russia and China trade with Iran, buy their oil, sell them weapons, and provide them with trade, but there are no billions of dollars being sent to Iran, not from Russia and not from China, not without a fair exchange of goods. This can not be similarly stated to be true of the US.

    In fact, the best move for Israel is to extend its diplomatic skills to all parties so as to bridge the great divide which is widening between East and West, and simultaneously extend its own interests at the same time. There will be no winner should the West continue to escalate its proxy war with Russia or its possible war with China, and Israel would certainly become a great loser should the anticipated showdown ultimately become realized.

    As Bibi has demonstrated with the US proxy war in Ukraine, Israel is not in the US camp but rather it stands apart, quite capable of becoming the new Sweden. The role of a neutral power is both a powerful and important role, which Sweden played with skill and import over its history of neutrality. The loss of such a neutral role model should be regretted by all, particularly amid a war which has no rational outcome beyond the efforts of diplomats. In fact, Bennett demonstrated this very fact during his role in Istanbul.

    Consequently, Israel, acting as an honest broker to all sides, as there are more than just two if you consider the current reality with care, would benefit both the entire world as well as herself should she continue on as she is currently proceeding, ie not in the US camp, but in a camp all her own.

  12. BRICS is just another formalizing of a new Cold War, with the US and allies on one side, and the China-Russia coalition on the other. “Third World” countries are simply declaring which side they wish to be on. China and Russia were both isolated from the West before, and they are headed in that direction now. They didn’t prosper then, and I don’t think they will now.

    Of course, hanging over all this, now as then, is a nuclear confrontation.

    Israel is in the US camp, whether it likes it or no, because America’s enemies also oppose Israel.

  13. The main issue is that the west insist on shooting itself in the foot while BRICS consists of “developing” countries. The west wants to reduce carbon output while BRICS are free to burn whatever they want without limits. Is it any wonder that the west is falling behind?