Putin lays out priorities for Russia’s BRICS chairmanship

Putin’s comments crystalized Moscow’s aims to leverage its BRICS leadership to accelerate the bloc’s transformation from an economic alliance into a geopolitical coalition capable of counterbalancing Western dominance across multiple spheres.

Russian President Vladimir Putin outlined an ambitious agenda Friday for Moscow’s yearlong chairmanship of BRICS, the influential bloc of major emerging economies.

In a speech detailing Russia’s priorities, Putin said integrating new members into the grouping’s existing cooperation mechanisms was a top goal. He also emphasized enhancing BRICS’ global influence as a counterweight to the U.S.-led international order.

Putin’s comments crystalized Moscow’s aims to leverage its BRICS leadership to accelerate the bloc’s transformation from an economic alliance into a geopolitical coalition capable of counterbalancing Western dominance across multiple spheres.

Russia assumed the annually rotating BRICS chairmanship from China at the start of 2023, just weeks after the expanded membership dramatically reshaped the grouping to include around 40% of the global population and a quarter of the world’s economic output.

In the televised speech, Putin hailed what he called the “principles of mutual respect, equality, openness and consensus” undergirding cooperation within BRICS. He argued these values were fueling surging interest in the bloc from the Global South seeking a greater voice in world affairs.

To meet its chairmanship objectives, Putin said Russia has already organized around 200 events across sectors like agriculture, energy, finance, and space. He cited nanotechnology, biotechnology, and nuclear medicine as focus areas.

Youth engagement is another priority, with BRICS sporting games and a leaders’ summit scheduled later this year in Russia’s cities of Kazan and Samara respectively.

While light on specifics, Putin’s speech underscored Moscow’s determination to leverage its BRICS stewardship to project influence and accelerate multipolarity during an era of escalating U.S.-Russia tensions.

Critics in the West view Russia’s invigorated BRICS agenda as an attempt to build an anti-Western coalition at a time when it faces widespread isolation over Ukraine. However, many developing nations are closely watching to see if the bloc can begin delivering meaningful counterweights to U.S.- and European-led financial structures and security architectures.