Why Did BRICS Back Russia on Crimea?

Why Did BRICS Back Russia on Crimea

Why Did BRICS Back Russia on Crimea? (The Diplomat, March 31, 2014):

The BRICS’s support for Russia shows the Western-dominated post-Cold War order is eroding.

There’s been no shortage of reports and commentaries on the crisis in Ukraine and Crimea, and Russia’s role in it. Yet one of the more notable recent developments in the crisis has received surprisingly little attention.

Namely, the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) has unanimously and, in many ways, forcefully backed Russia’s position on Crimea. The Diplomat has reported on China’s cautious and India’s more enthusiastic backing of Russia before. However, the BRICS grouping as a whole has also stood by the Kremlin.

Indeed, they made this quite clear during a BRICS foreign minister meeting that took place on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague last week. Just prior to the meeting, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop suggested that Australia might ban Russia’s participation in the G20 summit it will be hosting later this year as a means of pressuring Vladimir Putin on Ukraine.

The BRICS foreign ministers warned Australia against this course of action in the statement they released following their meeting last week. “The Ministers noted with concern the recent media statement on the forthcoming G20 Summit to be held in Brisbane in November 2014,” the statement said. “The custodianship of the G20 belongs to all Member States equally and no one Member State can unilaterally determine its nature and character.”

The statement went on to say, “The escalation of hostile language, sanctions and counter-sanctions, and force does not contribute to a sustainable and peaceful solution, according to international law, including the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.” As Oliver Stuenkel at Post Western World noted, the statement as a whole, and in particular the G20 aspect of it, was a “clear sign that [the] West will not succeed in bringing the entire international community into line in its attempt to isolate Russia.”

This was further reinforced later in the week when China, Brazil, India and South Africa (along with 54 other nations) all abstained from the UN General Assembly resolution criticizing the Crimea referendum. Another ten states joined Russia in voting against the non-binding resolution.

In some ways, the other BRICS countries’ support for Russia is entirely predictable. The group has always been somewhat constrained by the animosities that exist between certain members, as well as the general lack of shared purpose among such different and geographically dispersed nations. BRICS has often tried to overcome these internal challenges by unifying behind an anti-Western or at least post-Western position. In that sense, it’s no surprise that the group opposed Western attempts to isolate one of its own members.

At the same time, this anti-Western stance has usually taken the form of BRICS opposition to Western attempts to place new limits on sovereignty. Since many of its members are former Western colonies or quasi-colonies, the BRICS are highly suspicious of Western claims that sovereignty can be trumped by so-called universal principles of the humanitarian and anti-proliferation variety. Thus, they have been highly critical of NATO’s decision to serve as the air wing of the anti-Qaddafi opposition that overthrew the Libyan government in 2011, as well as what they perceive as attempts by the West to now overthrow Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

However, in the case of Ukraine, it was Russia that was violating the sanctity of another state’s sovereignty. Still, the BRICS grouping has backed Russia. It’s worth noting that the BRICS countries are supporting Russia at potentially great cost to themselves, given that they all face at least one potential secessionist movement within their own territories.

India, for example, has a long history of fluid borders and today struggles with potential secessionist movements from Muslim populations as well as a potent security threat from the Maoist insurgency. China suffers most notably from Tibetans and Uyghurs aspiring to break away from the Han-dominated Chinese state. Even among Han China, however, regional divisions have long challenged central control in the vast country. Calls for secession from the Cape region in South Africa have grown in recent years, and Brazil has long faced a secessionist movement in its southern sub-region, which is dominated demographically by European immigrants. Russia, of course, faces a host of internal secessionist groups that may someday lead Moscow to regret its annexation of Crimea.

The fact that BRICS supported Russia despite these concerns suggests that its anti-Western leanings may be more strongly held than most previously believed. Indeed, besides backing Russia in the foreign ministers’ statement, the rising powers also took time to harshly criticize the U.S. (not by name) for the cyber surveillance programs that were revealed by Edward Snowden.

The BRICS and other non-Western powers’ support for Russia also suggests that forging anything like an international order will be extremely difficult, given the lack of shared principles to act as a foundation. Although the West generally celebrated the fact that the UN General Assembly approved the resolution condemning the Crimea referendum, the fact that 69 countries either abstained or voted against it should be a wake-up call. It increasingly appears that the Western dominated post-Cold War era is over. But as of yet, no new order exists to replace it.

5 thoughts on “Why Did BRICS Back Russia on Crimea?

  1. The reason is very simple: BRIC members have all dumped the dollar. The entire political chessboard has shifted. Nobody trusts the US, politically or financially.
    Not prosecuting those crooks after they caused entire nations to go bankrupt, destroyed the pensions and real estate values of millions of us was the worst thing possible.
    When Obama took office, he had the biggest global mandate ever for a US president…..the world looked to him to clean up the garbage bin called Wall Street, and do something to re-establish the credibility of the US. Instead, he did nothing, the stealing continues and the US citizens and the world no longer trusts this corrupt government.
    Putin has the people behind him. His first motivation is to enrich his nation (Obama and friends do the opposite) and secure his position as a potential world leader.
    More nations trust Russia than the US.
    Why Australia threw rocks at Russia was just smoke and mirrors, they dumped the dollar last year at the same time New Zealand did.
    The only ones who don’t seem to realize how radically things have changed are the fools running the US.

  2. I just think that more and more people are turning off to the pre-programmed rhetoric issued by the west in expectation of blind consensus, compliance and obedience.
    It comes over as a spoilt child threatening to take his toy home if he doesn’t get his own way.
    The world has had enough, but what is bubbling up through all of this is what I see an the shadowy control and manipulation of it all by secretive groups hiding under the coat of the UK diplomatic departments.
    It appears that the once omnipotent Great Britain, is only pretending to be dead, and is in fact the conductor of the orchestra.

  3. To Squodgy: The shadow groups have no allegiance to nation or country, only to their own profits and power. They live everywhere.
    Your idea about Great Britain is very interesting. They were smart enough to keep their own currency, and not be a slave to Euro group rule.
    Do you recall the Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times”? I think all times are interesting to those in them, but we are over the cliff, and falling is fast, but never fruitful.

  4. If you think about it, GB plays the part of the puppet poodle very well, shouting & balling in support of the latest issue. Then, as it goes snafu, they go quiet, leaving the main protaganist (normally the US) exposed.
    However I think the instigation comes from UK. In every incursion I can find during last twenty years at least, the UK SAS have been there first……and then there was Diana…on foreign soil yet again.
    The silence is merely a re-grouping time awaiting further instructions and adjustments to the new situation.
    Again, if you think about it, the richest family in the world, the red shield is predominantly domiciled here in UK.
    The Bilderburg meeting was here last year, in nearby Denmark this year and more often than not in close by Europe, where the dynasties are still ensconced.

  5. Very interesting information, Squodgy…….you might well be right. All US politicians are puppets of their corporate owners…………….

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