Putin meets leaders of China, Brazil and India, showing Russia still has strong allies despite invading Ukraine


Leaders of the BRICS countries – Chinese Xi Jinping, Russian Vladimir Putin, Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro, Indian Narendra Modi and South African Cyril Ramaphosa – at the BRICS summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019. The leaders met virtually this year.Sputnik/Alexey Nikolsky/Kremlin via Reuters

  • Putin is meeting the leaders of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) alliance this week.

  • Putin said Russian trade with BRICS countries increased by 38% between January and March despite Western sanctions.

  • The meeting shows that Putin still has friends despite the backlash from his invasion of Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin is meeting with a group of top world leaders this week, reiterating that Russia still has strong allies despite the backlash from its invasion of Ukraine.

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Putin is attending a virtual meeting of the BRICS alliance, a group made up of Russia, India, China, Brazil and South Africa founded in 2009, on Thursday.

The leaders released pre-recorded speeches on Wednesday, all without criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Neither Brazil, South Africa, nor India mentioned Ukraine by name. Chinese President Xi Jinping said: “The Ukraine crisis has once again raised alarm bells for humanity. Countries will surely find themselves in security difficulties if they place blind faith in their positions of strength, expand alliances military and seek their own security at the expense of others,” in a veiled reference to the United States and NATO.

Putin also announced that the nations have deepened their ties at a time when Russia’s economy has been damaged by Western sanctions.

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Following Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, the US, UK, EU and several other countries sanctioned Russian companies and entities, with the US and EU banning Russian oil imports.

Putin said Russia was “redirecting” its trade flows to BRICS countries and other “reliable international partners”, according to the official Tass news agency. As a result, Putin said trade with China, India, Brazil and South Africa jumped 38% in the first three months of the year.

China and India had rushed to buy cheap Russian oil as Western importers retreated as Russia’s oil export revenue jumped 11% in May.

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“Western partners are neglecting the basic principles of market economy, free trade and the inviolability of private property,” Putin said of Western sanctions. He also called them “politically motivated”.

The BRICS meeting is a stark reminder that Russia still has hugely powerful friends in China, India, Brazil and South Africa, despite being ostracized and financially punished by the West.

The BRICS have turned a blind eye to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and it seems unlikely that they will ever condemn Putin.

In his speech ahead of the BRICS meeting on Thursday, Xi reiterated his long-held view that the West is “arming” the global economy by using sanctions to punish nations, including Russia.

Several Chinese entities are themselves subject to US sanctions.

Western powers hoped the sanctions would deter Russia from continuing its invasion of Ukraine, but that has not happened and experts say Putin is ready for a years-long battle for eastern Ukraine.

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