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Message Without the dollar and almost with Putin: how did Russian propaganda cover the BRICS summit?

In the optics of Russian propaganda, BRICS is being transformed into UN 2.0. without the West and with the leading role of Russia. Here is how the Kremlin covers its international isolation with information.

On August 24, the three-day 15th BRICS summit, an association that so far includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, ended in the largest city of South Africa, Johannesburg. BRICS members represent over 40% of the world's population and over a quarter of global GDP.

The Johannesburg summit was personally attended by four of the five leaders of the BRICS countries. Russia was represented by Foreign Minister Lavrov. South Africa is a party to the Rome Charter and in the event that the leader of Russia arrives on its territory, it is obliged to detain him on a warrant from the International Criminal Court and extradite him to The Hague. After lengthy legal consultations, the South African authorities have not conceded to international principles, so Putin had to content himself with an online speech.

The key event of the summit was the invitation of six new countries to join the BRICS: Argentina, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Previously, the organization expanded only in 2010, when the current host of the summit, South Africa, joined it. The biggest lobbyists for expansion were China and Russia. China, as the most powerful member of the organization, seeks to further strengthen its global influence against the backdrop of growing rivalry with the United States. Russia needs to expand to overcome partial international isolation. At the same time, Putin's online participation this year only symbolically emphasized this isolation. The other three BRICS countries have much warmer relations with Western democracies and are not interested in turning the organization into a bloc hostile to the West.

The key messages that Moscow spread in the context of the summit:

“Isolation Shattered Forever”

Moscow seeks to take advantage of any international interaction to promote the thesis that attempts to isolate it are useless. The BRICS summit was no exception. For example, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Mariia Zakharova, summed up the course of the summit in her telegram as follows: “The results are brilliant. “Isolation” as an American weapon is destroyed forever”. But Putin's absence from the summit made it much more difficult for Russian propaganda to advance the relevant thesis. The Russian official media noted the usefulness of Putin’s participation in the meeting, even if it was online: “Volodymyr Putin takes part remotely, in the format of a video conference, which did not prevent our president from delivering a voluminous speech on the role of BRICS in shaping a multipolar world order. ..”. The same Zakharova, in an interview with propagandist Volodymyr Soloviov, decided to even appeal to India's success in space, just to prove that there is nothing wrong with Putin's absence: “A concrete example - yesterday the meeting of BRICS members was closed. Each speaker continues the discussion. The Prime Minister of India apologizes and says that he needs to personally remotely monitor the landing on the moon of the Indian spacecraft. He left the meeting room, his place was taken by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of India. The world is so full of events today that the formal, protocol part is being adjusted. Therefore, for Zakharova, an arrest warrant from the International Court of Justice and the conquest of the moon are equally valid reasons to leave.

“BRICS is a more influential version of the G7”

Russian propaganda sought to pit the BRICS against the Group of Seven (G7), an association of major liberal democracies from which Moscow was excluded in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea. Because of the fact of the expansion of the BRICS, the propaganda convinced that the organization to which Russia continues to belong has now become much more powerful than the organization from which Moscow was expelled. Therefore, propaganda social networks were filled with figures that should convince of the key role of the enlarged BRICS in the future world: “BRICS is now four times the size of the G7 in terms of population”, “BRICS now accounts for 36% of the globe, and this is twice as much as the G7”, “BRICS will become the owner of 44.35% of the world's oil reserves”. Potential new members of the BRICS in a separate order befell the comparison with Western countries by pro-Russian social networks: “These six states are home to more than 400 million people, which is comparable to the population of the entire EU. The size of the GDP per PCS of the new BRICS members exceeds $8 trillion: this is comparable to the size of the economies of the “locomotives” of Old Europe - France and Germany”. Finally, in one of the anonymous channels, it was assumed that BRICS would replace the UN in the future: “BRICS is gradually turning into UN 2.0. only without the West”.

Although these figures are formally correct, most of the old and new members of the BRICS are not at all going to resist the West to please Moscow. In addition, the BRICS countries are much more diverse in terms of the nature of their cultures, economies and political regimes compared to the post-industrial democracies of the G7. The G7 countries are also united by long-term military-political cooperation in the format of NATO or bilateral agreements with Japan. Between the key members of the BRICS, India and China, there is a long border confrontation. Newly invited members Iran and Saudi Arabia have long been engaged in a cold war in the Middle East with hot proxies, for example in Yemen or Syria. And only recently, with the mediation of China, they agreed on a temporary cold peace. Therefore, BRICS is primarily a consultative platform for states with very different interests, and this form of interaction in the organization is likely to continue in an expanded format.

“BRICS de-dollarizes the world and Russia”

Russian propagandists have long predicted an early end to the dominance of the dollar in international trade, which should protect Russia from the impact of international sanctions. Therefore, in the context of the summit, Russian propaganda intensified dreams of a single BRICS currency as an alternative to the dollar. This opinion was also promoted by Putin in his speech. Due to the diversity of the political regimes and economies of the BRICS members and their not very close economic interaction, the single currency is a completely unrealistic project that was not even on the summit agenda. The parties only agreed to consult on increasing settlements in local currencies. But the Russian media believes that, despite the difficulties, Putin will make progress in creating a single currency: “Putin intends to deprive the United States of their main weapon in foreign economic policy of the ability to use the dollar to influence other countries”.

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