After many early achievements, BRICS is now in gridlock, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, India-China border tensions, and the Ukraine conflict. Despite its apparent diplomatic bankruptcy, 19 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America are eagerly waiting in line to join the grouping.
India, as chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, hosted the foreign ministers’ meet in Goa last week. What would have been an important and expanding regional grouping has been complicated by the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the increased influence of China and an obstructionist Pakistan. Still, India has played its role with an eye on the long term.
In 2022, increased sanctions were imposed on Russia by the U.S., E.U., and their allies. The track record of Western sanctions shows they are quick to be imposed, but slow to be removed. In the current environment, it is reasonable to assume that sanctions on Russia will stay in place for a very long time. India should plan its defence and commercial relations accordingly.
India’s G20 and SCO presidencies have both promise and complexity, for itself and for Moscow. India need not involve itself in crisis settlement, but focus on economic issues, food and energy security, innovation and terrorism. Moscow can help itself by aligning its interests with India’s especially at multilaterals and the global south outreach, and potentially rebuild bridges with the developed north.
2023 brings responsibility and opportunity for India. As the host of the G20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the world will be watching closely. With this authority, comes challenges encapsulated by five C’s: Covid, Contraction, Climate crisis, Conflict and China. If India is able to use its opportunity, the year could end with India viewed as a near-great power, an international bridge-builder, and a successful democracy.
Discontent over high energy prices, spiralling living costs, and anti war sentiments have gripped Europe, resulting in protests and civil unrest across the continent. With no immediate solution in sight, public resentment is likely to intensify through the coming winter months
The reference to India by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Valdai Discussion Club may be interpreted as encouragement to New Delhi to use its good offices to nudge the warring sides to the negotiating table. Mediation is a big power game, and this may be the right time for India, at the cusp of the G20 Presidency, to start with a record of success
Wide-ranging economic sanctions on Russia are likely to stay for several years, if not decades. Given Russia’s critical global role as a supplier of key commodities and military hardware, India should pursue long term solutions to continue this trade.
The BRICS have largely abstained from the UNSC resolution condemning Russia’s attempts to annex four Ukrainian provinces. Is it BRICS solidarity or is it because the interests of the Global North and its allies, and those of the Global South, are diverging?
The last week of September was eventful for Russia. The partial-mobilisation was underway, the referendum of Russian-speaking regions in Ukraine took place, President Putin made a significant speech and the Nord Stream pipelines were damaged. Amit Bhandari, Energy Fellow, Gateway House, was in Moscow during this time. In this podcast, he offers his impressions of Moscow after the sanctions, compared with the city he saw before the Russia-Ukraine conflict