Foreign ministers of the nations comprising a China and Russia-led economic bloc have made clear that they intend to rebalance global power, claiming to aim for a “multipolar” dynamic even as they work to place themselves at the center.
“At the heart of the problems we face is economic concentration that leaves too many nations at the mercy of too few,” Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said following the meeting of the BRICS countries.
Jaishankar stressed that the five nations comprising the group needed to “send out a strong message that the world is multipolar, that it is rebalancing and that old ways cannot address new situations.”
BRICS, named for its member states of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, met this week in Cape Town. The discussions focused on potential expansion of membership and potential for an alternative currency that could “ensure that we do not become victim to sanctions that have a secondary effect on countries” following sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Chinese Vice Minister Ma Zhaoxu voiced strong support for more countries joining the bloc to help expand its influence and increase its power.
“I believe the enlargement of BRICS will be beneficial to the BRICS countries,” he said, claiming the group was “inclusive … in sharp contrast to some countries’ small circle.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that some dozen or so nations had shown interest in joining, and South Africa’s BRICS ambassador Anil Sooklal said that countries from Europe have asked about joining, according to South African outlet News 24.
The list of potential new members allegedly includes Iran and Saudi Arabia, both of whom had representatives in Cape Town to participate in the BRICS meeting. Other hopeful candidates include Venezuela, Argentina, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates.
BRICS has recently emerged as an alternative to the G7, which met last month in Japan for its annual summit. The group started off as a loose conglomerate, but China and Russia have given it a more concrete form in the past few years as they look to re-focus world power dynamics.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira called the group an “indispensable mechanism” to balance against the Western influence of the G7, which is made up of the U.S., Japan, Canada, Britain, France, Italy and Germany.
One issue that overshadowed the meeting remained the question of whether South Africa would be obliged to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin. The International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest in relation to war crimes, specifically the abduction of children, allegedly committed in Ukraine.
South Africa, as a signatory of the 1998 Rome Statute, would likely be compelled to arrest Putin if he attended this or any future meetings within its borders, but officials have looked at obtaining diplomatic immunity for Putin in order to skirt the issue.
“Russia attaches enormous importance to the development of this format of integration. And Russia will take part in this summit at the proper level,” Russian press secretary Dmitry Peskov said during a recent press conference. “Of course, we count as a bare minimum on partner countries in such an important format not being guided by such illegal decisions.”
A statement by Clayson Monyela, head of South Africa’s public diplomacy, on Tuesday said it was “standard” practice for Cape Town and “all countries” to issue immunity for officials attending international conferences “irrespective of the level of participation.”
Fox News Digital’s Caitlin McFall and Reuters contributed to this report.